Juvenile detention refers to a temporary custody arrangement usually used when a minor is arrested but the court’s final decision of their guilt or innocence is still pending. If a judge believes that there is a risk of the individual breaking laws or evading justice, they may order pre-trial custody. After their case is reviewed, fewer young individuals are kept in detention facilities while they await either a resolution or a transfer to a different location following a resolution.
Each juvenile detention facility follows a unique daily routine, although students who are of school age are required to attend classes. It is important to have the opportunity to regularly go outside, engage in physical activities, participate in various recreational pursuits, and practice their religion. The privileges and rights of young people in detention, such as access to education, medical care, psychological counselling, fair trial, legal assistance and a secure and adequate environment are guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, state constitutions, federal laws and court precedents. Recognizing the existing deficiencies in providing a safe and compassionate environment for adolescents in custody, the Foundation has issued comprehensive guidelines for institutions to address these shortcomings.
Is Juvenile Detention A Good Option For Juveniles?
According to research funded by the Foundation and published in peer-reviewed studies, the likelihood of an individual committing future crimes increased by 33% and engaging in misdemeanours rose by 11% due to juvenile detention. Detention leads to notable negative consequences, including worsened medical conditions and being cut off from family, friends, education and society. Additionally, it serves as a pathway to further involvement in the criminal justice system.
Below are a handful of instances that demonstrate the adverse effects of imprisonment on individuals and the community to that belong to-
- Education – When a child is removed from their community, their education suffers as they are unable to continue with their academic program. While juvenile detention centres do offer some education, it is often inadequate and does not align with the curriculum the children were following prior to incarceration. Detention reduces the likelihood of these children completing high school or finding employment.
- Health – The well-being of a child often deteriorates when they are taken away from their familiar environment and placed in the uncertain conditions of temporary imprisonment, which has many short-term and long-term consequences.
- Long-term consequences – Much research indicates that young individuals who are held in detention centres while awaiting the resolution of their cases experience more negative outcomes compared to those who are allowed to remain in their homes during this period. Moreover, incarcerated youths have an increased likelihood of being re-arrested or facing subsequent arrests in the future.
There has been an observed significant increase in the occurrence of crimes perpetrated by individuals aged 15 to 16 years in recent years. The general factors contributing to these crimes include life experiences, the influence of dominant masculinity, cultural influences, economic hardships, and insufficient education.
These factors collectively contribute to the motivation or mindset behind the commission of these crimes.
The disturbing incident known as the “Nirbhaya Delhi Gang Rape Case” which took place on December 16, deeply impacted the entire nation and prompted numerous debates within the justice system. The involvement of the perpetrator, who was only 6 months away from turning 18 at that time, became the main focal point of these discussions. Consequently, The Indian Parliament enacted a new legislation known as the “Juvenile Justice Care and Protection, 2015” in response to the perpetrator’s role in the heinous act of rape, leading to significant changes in the country’s laws. The act sets a maximum sentence of 3 years for young offenders, and this punishment is still applicable for serious crimes. On the other hand, adult offenders can receive a conviction that could result in 7 years in prison, life imprisonment, or even the death penalty. Nevertheless, the act allows for the possibility of rehabilitating juvenile offenders whenever feasible. The reformation-oriented penalties outlined in the legislation involve sending teenagers to treatment facilities or juvenile detention centres, as well as mandating their participation in various government or non-governmental organization programs.
One of the major concerns in contemporary society is the problem of juvenile crime, which arises as a consequence of the ongoing processes of urbanization and industrialization. This issue requires significant attention due to its multifaceted nature and far-reaching implications. Juvenile delinquency can be attributed to various factors such as dysfunctional families, insufficient attention, unstable economic conditions, substance abuse, and domestic violence, all of which are linked to parental involvement. Moreover, additional sociological factors like school environment, peer pressure, and neighbourhood conditions also contribute to these problems. The increasing rates of youth criminal behaviour in India are a serious cause for concern that requires immediate action.
While the government has implemented various laws to decrease the occurrence of juvenile crimes, the existing juvenile legislation lacks the ability to discourage young offenders, resulting in ineffective outcomes and a failure to achieve the main objective of lawmakers. As discussed in the aforementioned article, everyone has a part to play in reducing juvenile delinquency. The community, parents, and rehabilitative institutions all bear responsibility in this regard. If all these factors are actively involved, this current situation can be swiftly addressed. Additionally, the concept of home confinement should be taken into account for its potential success in our country, considering its inherent benefits and its adoption by several other nations.
This article is written and submitted by Prabhjot Singh during his course of internship at B&B Associates LLP. Prabhjot is a BBA.LLB 4nd Year student at Symbiosis Law School, Noida.