Crime Causation and Diversion in Mississippi
Crime Causation and Diversion in Mississippi
Juvenile diversion refers to interventions taken to take youths away from following the formal juvenile system processes but they are still accountable for what they committed. The aim of juvenile diversion is to minimize the labeling on youths as criminals or offenders once they are convicted. It is also meant to reduce the contact with the serious offenders who may expose them to other criminal acts (National Center for Mental Health and Juvenile Justice, 2016). It is also important for young age offenders so that they do not get separated from their family members. Juvenile diversion targets those with less serious criminal acts (Wilson, H. A., & Hoge, R. D., 2013). This then saves the resources such as time, money and human resource which become available to be applied on more serious offenses. In some cases, juvenile diversion can apply to serious offenses. In such cases, the offender suffers from mental illnesses and any other with psychological needs.
The type of juvenile diversion intervention applied vary among offenders. As stated earlier, the interventions can apply to both high risk and low risk offenders. It, therefore, depends on the age, the circumstances that led to the act and the mental state among other things. However, the overall aim of juvenile diversion is to correct the offender without having to follow the normal juvenile court proceedings. The Mississippi states uses two models that draw strategies juvenile diversion intervention. These models are:
The probation-intake diversion model
The school-based diversion model
School-based Diversion Model
The model targets the youth with mental health needs. Studies have shown that mentally ill individuals are more likely to commit crimes and come in contact with juvenile court processes. The models is applied in schools because this is where many youth are found and teachers can be trained to easily identify a mentally ill student. Instead of beating up a student who commit a crime, they can be identified as in need of mental help and appropriate corrective measures are taken.
This model requires that the school staff are specially trained to be able to pick out the students with behavioral health needs. The school is expected to have connections with other community-based programs that help those with mental health problems. Instead of arresting, suspending or beating up the students, the trained specialists can help the victim through therapy and any other constructive activity involvement. The model also ensures that school policies are revised to increase response capacity to mental health situations for all students. This means that a teacher should not quickly conclude the state of a misbehaving but should involve the trained school personnel to check on the student.
Probation-intake Diversion Model
Unlike school-based diversion models where corrective behavior occurs within the school setting, probation-intake requires that an offender is placed in put on probation and assigned a trained officer/supervisor over them. In this case the officers act more like managers, where they ensure service delivery, arrange for any required social services and help the offenders to realize their treatment goals. The model also targets the youth with mental illness. The specialized supervision focuses on four areas which include:
small, exclusive caseloads
specialized trained officers
internal and external service coordination
active problem solving.
Both models target youth offenders who have been identified to have some form of mental illness and therefore eligible for a diversion strategy. The specialized probation officers as well as specialized teachers are expected to have trained in mental health, crisis management, family engagement and motivational talks. This way they will be able to easily diagnose the problem and organize the necessary sessions to assist the offender.
Gang problems have been reported to increase in the Mississippi States since mid-20th century. There is, however, little that is known about them and what makes them to join gang groups. A Juvenile bulletin published by the US department of justice compiles a research on gangs which Mississippi is mentioned. It included the reasons why the youth form gang groups, why they join and the risks involved (U.S. Department of Juvenile,2018). It also outlined programs that can be used to prevent youth violence. The following are some of the report findings:
Youths join gangs for protection, because of money, for enjoyment or because of a friend who is also in the gang
The youth who engage in aggressive and violent behavior or pass through different caretakers or live in unsafe environments are likely to join gang groups.
In order to prevent youth gangs, schools and families must be strengthen and parents and teachers be trained to deal with and manage disruptive behavior.
The aim of community-based programs in responding to gang violence is to prevent, to intervene and to suppress youth gang. Such programs have specialized individuals who are trained to identify the specific problem and deal with it accordingly. As stated, youth join gang groups because of different reasons. The specialists are able to pick out the related youth problems. The programs may consists of juvenile homes, schools, counseling centers and they also collaborate with families, schools and other relevant organizations to reach out to the youth. The community use various strategies to address youth gang and violence which include but not limited to:
Reduce youth conflicts
Strengthening schools and families
Creating awareness on the badness of gangs and violence
Training parents and teachers on how respond to youth gang and violent activities
Creating homes for juveniles where they can be corrected and trained on other beneficial activities and on interpersonal skills
Role of Law Enforcement
The involvement of law enforcers is quite important in improving juvenile justice systems. Investigation of youth violence is done by police officers. They are able to point out youth illegal gun possession, use of illegal drugs, youth involvement in criminal activities among other things. Such information is critical in deciding what is good for the victim in terms of judicial processes. The law enforcers can also be involved in youth corrective measures (Farn, A., 2018). They are also involved in protecting the youth through creating policies that prevent harassment and online bullying.
Comparing the Two Diversion Strategies
I think school-based diversion model is more efficient that probation-intake diversion model. With school-based, youth can easily be noticed and early corrective measures can be done. Violence start from small unacceptable activities to big destructive ones, that is most criminals started as juveniles (Greenwood, P., 2008). For example, a young student may be rude to the teachers and beats other students frequently. When such a student is identified and corrected early, they stand high chances of changing and becoming a better person in future. Probation-based takes an already convicted individual who may have been violent since being youth. It takes time to correct such an individual and there is guarantee that they will not go back to the violent activities once they are out of probation.
National Center for Mental Health and Juvenile Justice (2016). Juvenile Diversion Strategies and Models
Wilson, H. A., & Hoge, R. D. (2013). The effect of youth diversion programs on recidivism: A meta-analytic review. Criminal justice and behavior, 40(5), 497-518.
Farn, A. (2018). Improving Outcomes for Justice-Involved Youth Through Evidence-Based Decision-Making and Diversion.
Greenwood, P. (2008). Prevention and intervention programs for juvenile offenders. The future of Children, 185-210.
U.S. Department of Juvenile (2018) Justice statistics https://www.ojjdp.gov/pubs/251861.pdf
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