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Working with Juvenile Defenders

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What Works with Juvenile Offenders
Juvenile Offenders are categorized differently than their adult counterparts for a variety of reasons. The primary reason is that as an offender who is not yet an adult, they are still considered a protected class due to their age and the concern of disrupting their rights to council and the rights of their parents to help dictate the events in their lives. Over the past few decades there have been several studies completed correlating the quantitative analysis in primary research studies with success rates of juvenile offender treatment. Because of the repeated success of certain treatments over others, these studies have lead to an agreement on what programs and intervention strategies work and which have little to no repeated success. By analyzing these treatment strategies as they have been portrayed in academic literature and through the primary research that has been completed, a summary analysis of what plans work when dealing with juvenile offenders will be devised and put forth as the best option for treatment.
The first aspect to analyze when dealing with implementing a new strategy for juvenile offender reformation and treatment plans is the idea of quality of the plan versus quantity of sessions required with all individuals in correctional institutions across the United States. In the past two decades, the numbers of individuals within the correctional systems across the United States has skyrocketed. In 2004, the jump in population caused the total population to reach “a new high in this country with almost 6.9 million offenders under correctional control” (Lowenkamp, Latessa, & Smith. 575). While this represented only a 2% increase in numbers within the system, that same 2% equates to over 125,000 new people which met a 50% increase the in cap of the population in corrections since 1990. A 50% increase in less than 15 years shows a much more staggering problem that might be noticed by just annual increases being analyzed. Due to this, the question must be raised on whether the length of term for the general population in corrections is too long depending on the offense, and if it is not too long of a sentence then what treatment can be implemented in a shorter amount of time to see the best results to allow parole and reintegration with the rest of society. Hence, quality versus quantity. One study done on the subject analyzed the statistics and compared those individuals who would most benefit from shorter sentencing within the correctional system followed by a period of a “clinically relevant” correctional intervention. One of the most common method “for delivering these services is through the use of community residential facilities (e.g., halfway houses). There is, however, considerable variation these facilities” but the end result is that they lessen the impact on the correctional institutions where the individuals are released from and help with a healthy transition (Lowenkamp et al. 579). If researcher can show that the length of time offenders are incarcerated has less effect on their overall well being and ability to become productive members of society, then these institutions become a promising alternative to increase turnover within the system.
Similar to the advent of these institutions which are more beneficial to the general population of incarcerated individuals is the issue of harm incurred on low-risk offenders when correctional interventions are pushed on them. Different degrees of offense are witnessed when looking at the general population of a correctional institution. These offenses can range from white collar crimes such as embezzlement of funds all the way up to murder or manslaughter. While these groups are often separated by institution type, there is still a wide gamut of offenses within each sector. Because of this, not all individuals will receive the correct level of interaction to deal with their period in the correctional institution. If a white collar criminal receives more treatment than a violent criminal, then they could be adversely affected mentally. Some develop psychological changes and in some instances trauma due to issues of oversight. The differences in length of incarceration and the severity of events “indicates that offenders should be provided with supervision and treatment levels that are commensurate with their risk levels” (Latessa and Lowenkamp 2004). This also begs the question of the effects of prolonged incarceration or neglect from staff for minor offenses. Should individuals who, for example, are arrested for a DWI be indicted at the same hearing as someone who has assaulted a family member or violated restraining orders? In some courts these groups are separated and in others they are not. Similarly, if an individual is held for an undue amount of time what physical and mental effects can be seen when they try to reintegrate. The same study has shown that while high risk offenders often have antisocial tendencies and reintegration issues inherent in their personality, low-risk offenders are usually the opposite. If low-risk offenders are placed in facilities with high-risk individuals then the effects can be disastrous. “We see low-risk offenders being harmed by intense correctional intervention” and by placing “low-risk offenders in the more intense correctional interventions, we are probably exposing them to higher-risk offenders, and we know that who your associates are is an important risk factor” when analyzing repeated offenses (Latessa & Lowenkamp 2004). Introducing low-risk offenders to an environment or social group which is high-risk can cause for their influence to rub off and the low-risk offenders slowly acclimate to the idea that high-risk actions are acceptable causing repeat offenses later. Utilizing shorter periods with separation of groups by severity of offense are key to the mental and physical well being of those individuals who are low-risk and can quickly re-acclimate to society. This can be done if “programs that end up receiving low-risk offenders should make sure that those offenders are returned back to the environments that made them “low-risk”” (Lowenkapm & Latessa, 2004). Consequently, as the majority of offenses committed by juvenile offenders tend to classify them as low-risk individuals, this set of information is of primary importance to the physical and mental health of this group.
Another set of programs which have been shown to have positive results in reducing recidivism of juvenile defenders are cognitive-behavioral programs. Several meta-analyses of these studies have been completed in recent years with positive results. For instance, a 2002 study done by Pearson, Lipton, Cleland and Yee showed a reduction in recidivism of ~30% and similarly a meta-analysis completed by Wilson, Bouffard, and MacKenzie in 2005shows a reduction of recidivism range of 20-30% when comparing participants to control groups (Landenberger & Lipsey, 2005). What is cognitive-behavioral therapy one might ask? Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT for short, is a form of psychotherapy which emphasizes how we feel and what we do when faced with a specific stimulus. CBT is based “on the idea that our thoughts cause our feelings and behaviors, not external things, like people, situations, and events. The benefit of this fact is that we can change the way we think to feel / act better even if the situation does not change” (NACBT, 2007). The research completed within these meta-analyses reinforce the stance that greater levels of training for this treatment, and programs set up for demonstration and research purpose were associated with larger effects on those incarcerated in correctional institutions. This is due to the monitoring of offender attendance at therapy sessions and adherence to the intervention plan through treatment fidelity checks, although both research and monitor groups showed similar success to those individuals who were not closely monitored 24 hours a day. Even within the success observed due to these kinds of intervention strategies in the lives of juvenile offenders, there are several factors which dictate a good or a bad treatment strategy.
Juvenile offenders are often in confinement for shorter periods due to their age, and as such the method of therapy greatly affects the rate of success in reducing their chances of recidivism. The duration of CBT programs within the correctional system varies greatly, from weeks to years, and may involve multiple sessions weekly. If required to continue these treatments outside the correctional environment, there are a number of factors which can derail the success of the therapy. First, in correctional institutions there is less access to risk factors that can cause a downward spiral of habit. Additionally, those in correctional institutions are often with other individuals of similar age and gender backgrounds. This means that their peers often are from similar backgrounds which allow for a sense of understanding within the group Finally, the influence of the gender gap is significant because while traditionally males were considered significantly more likely to commit an offense, modern comparisons of recidivism have shown roughly a 3:1 ratio of male to female crime (Landenberger & Lipsey, 2005). In correctional facilities, males and females are isolated from one another and therefore the control of the study is higher than outside the correctional facilities due to the nature of interacting with social and work peers from different social and economic groups. Another concern with this is that sexuality has a role to play in these programs and a correlation of sexual deviancy and active behavior in men and women has been seen when compared to effectiveness of treatment when dealing with a co-educational setting outside of the correctional system (Simourd & Andrews, 1992). Due to the nature of control within these treatment plans, instituting and enacting CBT therapies while the juvenile offenders are within the correctional system is key to successful. While older offenders have the luxury of time due to the nature of some of their respective behaviors, juvenile defender treatment programs must be quickly and expertly instituted to cover as much ground before the release date as possible within the facility.
Another aspect when dealing with the treatment of juvenile offenders is the analysis and treatment of the differences in criminogenic and noncriminogenic needs of the individual. Factors which can be changed are called dynamic factors which are also categorized as criminogenic needs. They include “factors like who an offender hangs round with, offenders’ attitudes and values, their lack of problem solving skills, their substance abuse, and their employment status. All of these are correlated with recidivism, and all can be targeted for change” (Latessa & Lowenkamp, 2005). Noncriminogenic factors, in comparison, are those factors which can not be changed and must be dealt with accordinly during a treatment program. These can include socioeconomic status, familial history of substance abuse, childhood experiences which affect the psyche, and other unchanging factors which must be understood and dealt with accordingly. These two set of factors when combined can cause success or failure with any treatment method because these are the factors which must be directly addressed with all juvenile offenders. Similar to how CBT analyzes and addresses feelings and emotional factors within the mind of the juvenile offender, treatments that work with criminogenic and noncriminogenic factors address the causes of certain actions and thought processes due to external stimuli. In these methods, one targets what needs to change for the juvenile offender. These changes focus on those factors which have a high correlation with criminal conduct. These programs should asses and target crime producing needs such as “anti-social attitutdes, substance abuse, lack of empathy, lack of problem solving and self-control skills, and other factors that are highly correlated with criminal conduct” (Latessa & Lowenkamp 2004). By removing or limiting the influence that these factors have on individual offenders, the treatment helps to limit the tendencies to fall back into old self destructive patterns which landed the youth in the correctional system in the first place.
The effectiveness of these programs, similar once again to the programs utilizing Correctional Behavior Therapy, rank factors according to the likelihood of causing criminal behavior and attack specific traits. The highest correlation of destructive behaviors within criminogenic factors included substance abuse problems, relationships with others in educational institutions, and personal problems which reinforce the individual’s perception on the status and futility of attempting ot change. Through therapy and addressing these issues head on, studies have shown “strong empirical support for the applicability of the principles of human service, risk, need and responsivity for young offenders” (Dowden & Andrews, 2008). Additionally, following strict tenets set down within therapy has also increased the likelihood of positive results. If the patient follows a set of instructions and a set therapy plan during their period in the correctional system as well as after their release, there have shown positive results. “Increased adherence to these principles is associated with increased reductions in reoffending. These findings suggest that the clinically relevant and psychologically informed approaches to reducing recidivism, outlined by many of the scholars of the rehabilitation literature, are indeed effective for young offender populations” (Dowden & Andrews, 2008). Also in line with the findings of CBT and the methods of instituting treatments in those programs is the issue of length of time allowed due to the short term of incarceration of juvenile offenders. While CBT methods vary in lengths of time and must be instituted as early as possible to finish before the subject leaves the correctional system, these methods of treatment must be instituted to reinforce for therapy outside of the system. The majority of the criminogenic factors have stimuli in the outside world due to social interaction with others, familial ties, socioeconomic status, etc. Therefore, while these programs must be started early on in order to get the framework put into place for maintaining control once released, therapy after release is also key as it continues the reinforcement process in the outside world.
While methods of treatment have already been posed on how to most effectively deal with juvenile offenders through both correctional behavior therapy and therapy focusing on criminogenic and noncriminogenic factors, the most important aspect to analyze is the evaluation of the youth before the treatment begins. In order to accurately set up any plan or treatment strategy, the reasons behind their actions and their psychological status must first be illustrated through analysis and observation. Analysis of the individual by experts has come under fire in the latter half of the twentieth century because not all observations yield the most accurate data because of ““gut feelings”, intuition, custom, and ideology at worst” (Cullen, Myer, & Latessa, 2009). This has lead to a large number of intensive and detrimental methods of treating commonplace issues which could more easily be sorted out through more research and analysis including “scared straight programs, intensive supervision… and getting in touch with their feminine side” (Cullen, Myer, & Latessa, 2009). These treatments all fail in their analysis because they have not taken account all aspects of the problem faced by the offender. While some factors are obvious when dealing with a patient, there are underlying factors which must be taken into consideration in how the subject is analyzed, observed, and diagnosed. This can all be done by utilizing empirical data through analysis and evaluation of the individual in a number of factors. Following in the footsteps of medicine, many scholars have begun embracing the logic of this new empirical based strategy and as such there has been “a call for evidence-based approaches in their fields of inquiry and practice” (Cullen, Myer, & Latessa, 2009). Instead of having a patient sit down and spill out their feelings as in the stereotypical fashion of psychiatry, a practice which can lead to the patient hiding or misrepresenting feelings and events, the utilization of other data gathering strategies are needed.
One way to analyze juvenile offenders adequately in order to see how they live their independent lives is through analysis of subjects on camera while they go about their daily lives. As the issue of data analysis is a primary issue when deciding a plan of treatment, having multiple researchers analyze footage from security cameras within the correctional facilities as well as information gathered while watching the subject interact with their constituents is key. These observations can then be tabulated into quantitative and qualitative results. “For survey data, a data summary sheet…would be appropriate. The data are organized into a series of column…and to save space, the identifiers over the columns should be kept short” (Bordens & Abbott, 2011). This would allow for the quantitative aspects to be broken down by the researchers and at the same time it would allow for justification of the information with qualitative supplementary data. Then, once the data has been tabulated into the quantitative and qualitative results, a more detailed breakdown can occur. Do the subjects react the same to all of their constituents or do they react differently by age, race, or other factor? In their physical activity times, do they have violent outbursts if another individual angers them, or do they take in stride and deal with it? Does their history before being entered into the correctional system reflect their sentence and what factors might have lead them to the current situation? All of these questions can be factored in before a treatment can be reached.
While all of the data builds on the idea of a quantitative plan versus a solely qualitative one, there are often multiple variables which play on one another to lead to a certain result. Because of this, the analysis must take the groupings of traits and analyze them in comparison to one another. “This form of analysis “is a special case of multiple regression. It is used when your dependent variable is categorical (e.g., male–female or Democrat–Republican–Independent) and you have several predictor variables. Discriminant analysis allows you to predict membership in a group (one of the discrete categories of your dependent variable) based on knowledge of a set of predictor variables” (Bordens & Abbott, 2011). While the individual might only exhibit certain tendencies after a specific stimuli, others will likely have similar reactions if they have shown similar reactions before. In that case, those individuals can be put on a treatment method earlier and have a greater chance of success during the short period that the juvenile offender is in the correctional system. This is because the “use the discriminant analysis is to evaluate the degree of contribution of each predictor (within a function) to the separation of groups.” If success is then seen regularly with certain treatment strategies, then the data is further reinforced and solidified as viable to the treatment of larger numbers of individuals in different settings inside and outside of the correctional institutions. Shorter time frames then become only a minor nuisance of the treatment strategies and don’t have the same strict problems of getting as much done in a short time.
Because the length of sentencing of juvenile offenders differs so highly from their adult counterparts as well as their protected status as youths, treatment of this group often needs to proceed quickly, effectively, and with little chance of causing long term physical or mental harm. Through the analyzed research, it is clear that there are a variety of strategies with one common thread that connects them all which are effective in treating this group. The commonality is that all of these strategies analyze the patient in depth and focus on certain issues which appear to be the cause of the majority of their issues be they emotional, environment, or due to multiple factors. All treatments have shown success, but as with any therapeutic method they will not each work for all individuals.
Bordens, K. S., & Abbott, B. B. (2011). Research design and methods: A process approach. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Dowden, C., & Andrews, D. A. (2008). What works in young offender treatment: A meta-analysis. What Works in Young Offender Treatment: A Meta-analysis.
Landenberger, N. A., & Lipsey, M. W. (2005). The positive effects of cognitive–behavioral programs for offenders: A meta-analysis of factors associated with effective treatment. Journal of Experimental Criminology, 1(4), 451-476.
Latessa, E. M., & Lowenkamp, C. (2005). What are Criminogenic Needs and Why are they Important? Community Corrections, 15-16.
Lowenkamp, C. T., & Latessa, E. J. (2004). Understanding the Risk Principle: How and Why Correctional Interventions Can Harm Low-Risk Offenders (USA, US Dept of Justice, Institute of Corrections).
Lowenkamp, C. T., Latessa, E. J., & Smith, P. (2006). Does Correctional Program Quality Really Matter? The Impact Of Adhering To The Principles Of Effective Intervention. Criminology Public Policy, 5(3), 575-594.
Simourd, L., & Andrews, D. A. (n.d.). Correlates of Delinquency: A Look At Gender Differences. Forum.
What is Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy? (2007, April 5). Retrieved May 01, 2012, from

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...Red Feather Journal 73 “Be Sure You're Right, Then Go Ahead”: The Davy Crockett Gun Craze by Sarah Nilsen In April 2005, sixty thousand members of the National Rifle Association gathered in Houston, Texas for their 134th Annual Meeting. The keynote speaker for the event was embattled U.S. House Majority Leader, Representative Tom De Lay. After his speech, De Lay was joined on stage by Lee Hamel dressed as Davy Crockett in full buckskin attire and a coonskin hat. Hamel presented De Lay with a handcrafted flintlock rifle that he had made for the event with his mentor, Cecil Brooks. The presentation of the reproduction rifle to De Lay is part of a long NRA tradition that began in 1955 when Walt Disney‟s Davy Crockett series first appeared on television. When Charlton Heston received his handcrafted flintlock rifle in 1989, he uttered his famous words, “From my cold dead hands.” President Ronald Reagan and Vice President Dick Cheney also joined the list of those who received facsimile Davy Crockett flintlock rifles from a man dressed in Crockett buckskin attire. This tradition is part of the NRA‟s efforts to represent the gun as a key instrument in the founding of the United States. It secured this ideological representation in part by appropriating the mythology of early American heroes like Davy Crockett. Davy Crockett became emblematic of the gun mythology of early American life. This mythology was synergized by the NRA and popularized through children‟s......

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