Lakeshore News Tonight

Youth Advocate Points To Juvenile Justice System Flaws

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November 28, 2013 — Juveniles throughout the state of Indiana in the juvenile justice system may find themselves in worse outcomes than they were prior to the initial crime.

Indiana Youth Institute President & CEO Bill Stanczkiewicz warns that after children are released from the system, their chances of dropping out of school and using drugs and alcohol increase.

“We see a big change happening in the detention and the incarceration of juvenile offenders.  There is research that shows that crime actually happens when a very small number of young people who just commit a lot of crime over and over again.  They often start with considerably lower crimes maybe the fight or the petty theft or status offenses like having alcohol or being truant.  Then if they’re incarcerated they tend to over time graduate to the more serious offenses, the mugging, the rape, the armed robby, the murder and these tragic crimes,” said Stanczkiewicz.

“The whole key is if we can get to these young people while they are still lower level criminal offenders then the hope is that you can break that cycle of criminal behaviors and keep them from committing even worser offenses later on.”

Stanczykiewicz says, “Obviously, the best thing is for them not to be a criminal offender at all.  Committing that lower level juvenile offense are there ways that we could have them serve justice and penalty for their crime and provide them with other assistance so we can break that cycle of crime.  The way this works is for that lower level juvenile offender, think about somebody who has a marijuana joint in his pocket or maybe was involved in a fight that led to some pretty serious confrontation that led to an arrest.”

He suggests, “Instead of putting that juvenile offender in jail, there still is a penalty for their crime.  It could be community service.  It could be restitution to the victim.  Now, you’re also providing services like mental health counseling, substance abuse counseling, credit recovery and schools, jobs training, positive supports of this nature.  Sentencing them to a mentoring program so they have a mentor in their life.  We’re getting more and more data now that these youths are far less likely to commit another crime and instead start making better choices and get back on their feet.”

 

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