Research papers on juvenile crime will be able to illustrate that the juvenile justice system in the United States is deeply flawed. There are several avenues you can take to explore the problem of juvenile crime in your research paper. You may want to focus on comparing the past to the present systems. Your paper could be statistically based and include a comparison of facts on juvenile crime. Whichever direction you take, be sure to include proposals for future directions for addressing the problem of juvenile crime.
If doing your research paper from a historical perspective, note that in 1899, a separate system of justice was established to handle the differences between juvenile criminals and adult criminals. The juvenile crime system was originally orientated towards rehabilitation but the past several decades have seen a distinct change in the juvenile crime system to a more punitive and draconian juvenile justice policy. Young persons involved with crime tried as adults, convicted as adults and sentenced as adults more and more frequently. In this manor, there is little rehabilitation and inadequate care for the mental health of juveniles that are not given the same benefits as other offenders in their age group. The result of this trend is that the recidivism rate for juvenile crime has been higher than ever.
Juvenile Crime and the Mentality of Children
Your research paper should be ever cognizant of the fact that juveniles are not as fully mentally developed as adults and thus their crimes are spawned out of a youth's mentality. In fact, recent empirical data supports the notion that the prefrontal cortex of humans is not fully developed until the late 20s. Court cases have even set president the juveniles have a diminished culpability due to their age and therefore, juvenile crime should not be treated the same as crimes adults commit.
Juveniles with a criminal history do need to be treated differently than adults. The facilities and the programs for juveniles need to address their educational needs, juvenile rehabilitation possibilities and the need for mental health counseling. Juvenile justice facilities are inherently orientated towards skill acquisition and education and when a juvenile commits a crime, these facilities are where he/she belongs.
One of the problems in juvenile justice policy is a lack of funding. Some juvenile crimes are labeled as adult crimes simply because juvenile facilities are overcrowded. Prison overcrowding is a huge problem and can be an entire new topic for a research paper outside of looking at juvenile crime. Be sure not to write too much in your research paper about overcrowding or the prison system because your focus needs to be narrow due to the broad range of subtopics related to juvenile crime.
There is clear evidence that the US criminal justice system has many problems dealing with the issues related to juvenile crime. The following are a few of the problems you may want to focus on for a research paper:
- The recidivism rate
- Overcrowding of juvenile facilities
- The fact that the juvenile justice system being broken only perpetuates further crime
- Failure of lawmakers, policy-makers and communities to find solutions for children in the system