Juvenile Detention, Recidivism, and Mental Health
With rising rates of juvenile delinquency among conduct disordered youth, juvenile detention facilities are experiencing increasing populations while offenders struggle with recidivism. Recidivism refers to the tendency of offenders, after release from detainment to relapse into criminal behavior and return to prison.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, 67.5 percent individuals released from state detention faculties are arrested again within three years. The reason for the repeat behavior is that offenders often lack appropriate strategies for coping with problems in some or all of these areas: employment, substance abuse, marital or family counseling, social activity, emotional support, attitude changes, and education. A broad based effort that is tailored to offender's needs can assist with appropriate behaviors in each of these areas and is essential to the reduction of recidivism rates.
Employment. Juvenile offenders often lack marketable job skills. Even for those who had gainful employment prior to incarceration, many may have to change fields in order to find employers who are willing to hire released offenders. Apprenticeships or training in fields that are suitable for post-release employment could help released offenders find jobs, thereby reducing some of the temptation to re-offend.
Substance Abuse. Substance abuse is a major problem among incarcerated individuals and is a contributing factor in much criminal behavior. Individuals need to be educated about drug and alcohol abuse; they need help abstaining from substance abuse and they need to learn the triggers of relapse into substance abusing and what to do to prevent it.
Marital or Family Counseling. Many offenders come from unsupportive families. Furthermore, many of them now have children of their own and little or no parenting skills. Appropriate family counseling and/or parenting classes could help to reduce the odds that one might re-offend and potentially reduce the chances that the children of offenders might grow up to commit crimes themselves.
Social Activity. Human beings are social animals and released offenders will take part in some form of social activities. Guidance in finding an appropriate social support network can be instrumental in keeping released offenders away from bad influences, thus helping reduce the odds that they might reoffend.
Emotional Support. Coping with stress, anger management and problem solving are particularly challenging for released offenders as they are likely to lack skills in these areas. Teaching appropriate methods for dealing with problems could mitigate triggers for inappropriate behaviors.
Attitude Changes. Released offenders need to learn how their expectations influence interactions with others. Anger control and the development of appropriate social skills are particularly important. Tools that help bring about positive outcomes to personal interactions also help reduce the chances that one might engage in inappropriate behavior.
Education. Many released offenders have not finished high school. Courses geared toward obtaining a General Education Diploma (GED) are in great need. Also, education is an important factor in improving ones socioeconomic status. Attaining a higher level of education can reduce the temptation to relapse into old habits.
Tips for supporting recidivate youth:
- Provide an environment that is supportive and takes into account the individual's special needs for success. As the needs above indicate it takes help in many aspects to bring about change. If the environment is supportive it is more likely to lead to success due to the reduction of emotional triggers.
- Find a qualified professional that has experience and recourses available to target the recidivate youth's needs.
- Be open and keep clear communication. Lifestyle changes take time and the more one can seek assistance or verbalize their struggles the more they can be assisted with change.
- Assist in providing educational or tutoring support necessary to succeed.
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