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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Essay on Juvenile Detainees - The Duties of Juvenile Corrections Officials

The Jets once sang these famous lyrics "We ain't no delinquents, we're misunderstood.  Deep down inside us, there is good!" Perhaps, this sums up the reason behind the establishment of the juvenile justice system.  It puts emphasis on the often neglected aspect of juvenile justice system which is to be able to find out something about the juvenile. 

Because of the avowed purpose of the juvenile justice system, the juvenile corrections officials are often placed in a unique situation.  In the performance of their duty, they have to keep in mind that not all juvenile delinquents are notoriously bad and incorrigible.  Juvenile corrections officials must always be reminded that there may also be some good in some juvenile detainees and offenders.  Unlike the adult criminal offenders, the juvenile justice system must be more understanding of the situation of the juvenile detainees or offenders.  The juvenile justice system must always be mindful that whatever the crime they have committed in the past or have been involved in they are still children.  As children they need love, care, and attention which they may have been deprived of by their parents or guardians.

It is because of this difference in situation which makes the job of juvenile corrections officers unique.  While they work for the state or the local government and while it is their duty to protect the public against the juvenile offenders who may have terrorized the streets and committed crimes in the past, it is also their duty to act like the juvenile’s second parents while they are serving their sentence.  They cannot act like an impartial and objective judge whose primary duty is to assess the guilt of the defendant and render the decision without regard for why the juvenile has committed a wrong.  They cannot be vindictive but instead they should be more understanding of the circumstances behind the commission of the crime by these offenders (“Analysis: Juvenile Detention Overused?”).  Instead, they should develop an alliance or bond with the juvenile detainees so that they will understand them more and learn to deal with them (Moore and Sales, 2005).

The juvenile corrections officials are in a unique situation because in the performance of their duty they also have to take into account the circumstances of the child.  Since their most important function is the rehabilitation and improvement of the child, their duty requires them to study the child’s development, background and history.  For instance, juvenile corrections officers are interested in knowing the child’s family background, community, friends, and scholastic performance.  Juvenile corrections officers use this information for them to devise the appropriate therapeutic treatment or programs necessary for the rehabilitation and treatment of the juvenile offender (Moore and Sales, 2005).  Upon knowing the background of juvenile offender or detainee, the juvenile corrections officers determine the proper treatment that should be given to the juvenile offenders.  Moreover, if in the course of the gathering of information about the juvenile offenders, the juvenile corrections officer found out that the child has certain skills then the juvenile corrections officers can make the appropriate recommendations so that these skills may be integrated into the therapeutic treatment.

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It must however be stressed that the juvenile justice system does not tolerate any act of wrongdoing on the part of the juvenile detainees or offenders.  The system exists not just to rehabilitate but also to punish juvenile offenders for the offense they may have committed.  They may not have reached the age of minority at the time of the commission of the offense but the point is that a law was violated and peace was disturbed.  For this reason, juvenile detainees or offenders need to be punished for their actions. 

Because of the offenses they have committed, juvenile corrections officers need to make sure that these juvenile detainees or offenders do not pose a danger to their fellow detainees or offenders.  They must make sure that these juvenile detainees or offenders will not hurt themselves or their fellow detainees.  Thus, it is also their task to supervise and monitor the activities of juvenile offenders.  Since they are more knowledgeable of the personal background of the juvenile offenders based on the data they gathered, they are the ones who are in the best position to know which inmates are most likely to cause trouble inside the detention facilities. 

One of the more important duties of juvenile correctional officers is to inspect the detention facilities of juveniles to ensure that violence is avoided.  It is also their task to ensure that no contraband like drugs or weapons like bladed instruments are brought in inside the detention facilities.  Thus, juvenile correctional officers ensure that juvenile offenders are protected from violence while inside the detention facilities. 

Another important rationale behind the juvenile justice system is that it seeks to deter the commission of other crimes in the future by juvenile detainee or offender.  Similar to the criminal justice system, the juvenile justice system seeks to understand why crime happens, know why juvenile offenders commit crimes and prevent it from happening again in the future. 

            The unique situation among juvenile corrections officials in dealing with juvenile detainees and offenders is mainly brought about by the avowed purpose of the juvenile justice system.  Juvenile corrections officials must always be mindful that not all juvenile detainees and offenders are incorrigible offenders.  They can be rehabilitated and treated.  Their behavior may still be corrected.  The juvenile corrections officials must always realize that they play a special role in the rehabilitation and treatment of juvenile offenders.  

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