The Problem Of Youth Crime Essay

The Problem Of Youth Crime Essay

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Youth crime in society is unfortunately misunderstood – thus, youth are frequently disproportionately represented, which has lead to the belief that youth crime is steadily rising. Minaker & Hogeveen (2009), acknowledge that as a whole, youth crime has been decreasing, while incarceration for minor offences is not. To illustrate, Ashley Smith was a young girl who died from self-inflicted strangulation while under suicide watch in a federal prison. While on probation at 15-years-old, Ashley Smith threw apples at a postal worker where she was subsequently charged with a breach of probation (Richard et. al, 2008). Accordingly, Minaker & Hogeveen (2009), claim that violent activity peeks in females at a younger age that males, 14-15 for females and 17 for males. Correspondingly, it is explained that girls are less likely to be arrested for violent offences – girls are more likely to be arrested for administrative breaches (Minaker & Hogeveen, 2009: 116). Thus, this paper will examine how the case of Ashley Smith has exhibited the definite need for a qualitatively different approach within youth justice. Thus, by examining how mental health practices and restorative justice initiatives can be used as early, successful diversions from the traditional youth criminal justice system to aid youth, specifically females, who come in contact with the law.

The traditional values of gender within the criminal justice system are flawed – exacerbating the effects of mental illness in young offenders. To illustrate, Minaker & Hogeveen (2009) explain that paternalism remains a dominant response to youth’s criminal behaviour while incarcerated, predominantly effecting girls progress in a carceral setting. As a result, the programing implanted i...


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...e environment of youth detention accompanied with unaddressed mental health issues ultimately lead to her demise.

Indeed, while not always successful, mental health practices and restorative justice initiatives can be used as successful interventions for the unique circumstances of youth. Thus, the implication of better mental health practices prior to being in custody can significantly affect behaviours in prison, as a result can move people into community intervention quicker. Also, restorative justice can promote healthy healing for the victim and offender, while reducing costs by making use of community interventions. However, as a whole, the systemic flaws that exist within correctional services do not identify that youth have different needs than adults and the one size fits all, gender biased approach does not help youth who come in contact with the law.

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