While sending young offenders to juvenile hall might not be the best choice for rehabilitation, some alternatives also have problems that can cause more trouble than they solve. Residents in Florida may be surprised to know that the number of teens incarcerated in juvenile detention centers has dropped by half in the past 16 years. More young people are being put on probation, but this has its own set of challenges that can lead to detention.
Probation may last until an individual turns 21 and can come with conditions one has to follow to avoid juvenile detention. The probation requirements a teen must abide by are not always as straightforward as one might expect. Youth might be ordered to go to classes on time, obey parents and guardians and stay within a certain area. This means that subjective requirements can sometimes trip up teens, and many have trouble with electronic monitoring.
One young offender who related his story to Youth Radio talked about how he needed to get out of the house sometimes to walk around. Unfortunately, this led him to trouble. Probation officers must report violations and enforce court orders even if a teen was not causing any harm while leaving a designated area. While probation is meant to prevent future problems, many young people who were previously considered low-risk become much more likely to be involved with the adult criminal justice system.
Keeping young people out of the criminal justice system might be crucial to ensuring that they do not face charges as an adult. For this reason, one may want to consult with an attorney when a juvenile is charged with or suspected of a crime. Even a misdemeanor conviction could result in long-term consequences. An attorney might be able to negotiate with a prosecutor or mount a defense against any charges.