Home Colleges & Universities Treatment Versus Punishment: That is the Question!

Treatment Versus Punishment: That is the Question!


Treatment Versus Punishment: That is the Question!


Contrasting the relationship between social justice and juvenile justice I will analyze the differences of the two concepts which address juvenile delinquency in association with treatment and punishment. Using a theoretical aspect of my state of Florida with addressing a new implemented program and technique I explain how these can be effective for treatment and punishment for juvenile offenders. The effective measures for reducing crime all come down tothe important variables found in my statistical analysis of the crimes compared to three cities.


I will explain the differences between the two concepts of treatment and punishment. Based on a case study (related to a criminal justice issue). Reviewing the juvenile crime statistics between three cities in the state of Florida and crimes committed, I will represent my statistical analysis and data in a graphic display. Analyzing the differences in recidivism in association with success or failure of treatment and punishment I will explain how effective this results in reducing crime. I will address biological, psychological, and sociological aspects and theories which help explain juvenile delinquency. In conclusion I point out which intervention strategy is more effective in crime deterrence based on research and which given concept of treatment or punishment supports the over-arching concept of social justice.

The differences between the treatment and punishment concepts are one rehabilitates while the other punishes such as parole or life sentences and the death penalty. Treatment focuses on the rehabilitation of juveniles and some juvenile treatment reforms known as “what works” or “best practices” have a history of being effective with juveniles whom suffer from poverty, educational issues, family problems, and addictions. Treatment concepts include intervention programs such as Principles of Effective Intervention. According to Listwan, S. J. (2013), “On their surface, these principles are not groundbreaking. However, these principles were considered fairly radical for a field that was entrenched in the get-tough movement that focused primarily on increased use of punishment. The following is a list of the core principles; match treatment services to the offender’s risks and needs, use treatment models that are behavioral and cognitive behavioral in nature, develop a range of rewards and consequences for behavior, and provide relapse prevention strategies.” (Ch10.3Para2)

Sentencing juveniles to life without parole takes away the opportunity to rehabilitate a young intelligent individual. Even if a juvenile makes a mistake or repetitive mistakes its doesn’t mean they should be sentenced to life without parole. I think it’s possible for juveniles whom are imprisoned to learn from their mistakes and rebuild themselves. According to Tsui, J. C. (2014), “In Roper v. Simmons, the Supreme Court held capital punishment of minors unconstitutional. Justice Anthony Kennedy’s majority opinion cited to an earlier Supreme Court case, in which the plurality opinion explained that “[t]he reasons why juveniles are not trusted with the privileges and responsibilities of an adult also explain why their irresponsible conduct is not as morally reprehensible as that of an adult.” Relying on this argument, the Roper Court found that because juveniles have “diminished culpability” for their crimes as compared to their adult counterparts,“it is evident that the penological justifications for the death penalty apply to them with lesserforce than to adults.” (Pg644Para1)

I think a juvenile rehabilitation program can be a solution instead of just imprisonment and punishment. Through individual and group therapy, work programs, education, and positive reinforcement there would be a beneficial change in attitudes and personalities but, also a willingness to want to meet goals and achieve success. I think a positive perspective on helping juveniles in prison would help them but, a negative perspective would only hurt them and result in long term life sentences.

Do we as a nation of multicultural values care about the treatment of juveniles in the juveniles justice system? I think there are a few major debatable topics over this which are human rights, moral and ethical values, and constitutional rights. Considering those and then looking at the facts about the states taking control and authority over the juveniles and no legal representation with a judge making a final decision is a big deal. “The creators of the juvenile justice system established it based on the notion that judicial resources should be utilized in order to accomplish more than punitive, retributive objectives. The system began with the concept of parens patriae, the rationale that when a parent is no longer fit to provide for the welfare of a child, the state must step in and embody that role and provide protection for the wayward or troubled child.” (Pg720-721Para1)

Reviewing the statistical analysis of the use of threat of force and contact in association with crimes within three years based in areas of low income housing and where vacant housing is present there is an increase in criminal activities. According to Berzofsky, Marcus, Ewing, Glynis,  DeMichele, Matthew,  Langton, Lynn,  Hyland, Shelley,  Davis, Elizabeth (2011), “Another important finding as result of the adjustment is that 2011 has similar rates of use or threat of force as prior survey years. These findings also indicate that previous instruments suppressed estimates of use or threat of force during respondents’ most recent contact or any other contact in the past year. However, despite the perceived increase when no adjustment is applied, the application of the adjustment factor shows that these differences are not statistically significant. If the adjustment ratio had not been applied, the standard errors associated with the 2008 estimate (1.9%, unadjusted) would not overlap with those associated with the 2011 estimate (4.1%), erroneously suggesting that there was a statistically significant difference between the 2008 and 2011 survey year estimates.”

Using a program like ANOVA can help calculate statistical variances in data obtained in a short amount of time compared to longer periods for a more accurate percentage of predictable crimes in the future. According to Tarlow, K. R. (2016), “ANOVA tests the null hypothesis that population means are the same against the alternative that at least two are different. In ANOVA, all mean differences are tested simultaneously instead of one pair at a time, as in a t-test. This is useful because performing multiple t-tests increases the rate of type I error—the likelihood of a ‘false positive’ where one incorrectly concludes the samples are from populations with different means—but using ANOVA to test all mean differences at once does not.” (Pg16Para1)

Reviewing crime statistics between three cities in the state of Florida (Orlando, Tampa, and Miami) for increased criminal activity associated with violent crimes and property damage the demographics of male, African American and Hispanic, low education, and low socio-economic status with standardized data of 1:1000. Information obtained from Neighborhood Scout online database. Looking at each graph I can see violent crime rates are highest in Miami while property crime rates are highest in Orlando. Tampa falls in between at 30.88% compared to Miami at 53.97% and Orlando at 70.11%. Orlando clearly has the largest amount of crimes with 1:1000 ratio.

3 cities in FL crime rates Information obtained from Neighborhood Scout Online Database





Regarding recidivism rates it can be directly related to the economy such as areas of low income housing and the type of cultural norms such as family upbringing, education, and mental illness related to the excessive use and distribution of drugs. In communities it’s important for everyone to work together in effort with reducing crimes. This means community support for local law enforcement and participating in neighborhood watches as an example. When there is a lack of effort then there’s an increase in crimes. According to Jae Hong, K., & Abisaid, J. (2015), “For instance, more pluralistic communities are characterized as having larger populations and a greater number of businesses, churches, schools, voluntary groups, and competing interest groups. These communities have a decentralized and diversely distributed power structure (Tichenor & al., 1980). Conversely, less pluralistic communities have smaller populations, lower degrees of differentiation in interest groups and occupations, and a centralized distribution of power (Tichenor & al., 1980)” (Pg98-99Para5)

Looking back at treatment and punishment I want to compare why treatment is a more effective method than punishment for juveniles. I think the philosophy of the juvenile court system should be rehabilitative instead of punitive. Positive feedback and correctional programs which rehabilitate youth by using work programs and therapeutic programs would make a difference in changing behavior and thinking leading to successful outcomes for youths. Punishment is a form of hate that is expressed through causing an individual to feel oppressed, burdened, sad, and angered which is not good because there would be a rebellion formed in wanting revenge or repetitive delinquency out of anger from feeling of mistreatment. Further on the continued punishment can lead to depression and suicide inside prisons or correctional institutions. I think all lives matter and this is why I think punitive actions would not have a successful outcome and if anything a punitive action is more likely to cause repetitive behaviors in criminal activities. According to Steinebach, C., Steinebach, U., & Brendtro, L. K. (2013), “The preoccupation with evidence-based practice has sparked a “battle of the brands” motivated by “mine’s better” mentality (Duncan, Miller, Wampold, and Hubble, 2010, p.25). But the research is clear: the quality of the relational alliance is more potent than technique, and it transcends any scientific model or theory.” (Pg16Para3)

There is a rehabilitative program which can be used for youths in detention center, correctional facilities, and prisons called school-wide positive behavior interventions and supports (SW-PBIS). This strategy and program improves behavioral problems and has successful outcomes for youths. This is a common program which targets behavioral problems and helps youth learn to use positive thinking and ways to overcome the factors contributing to the behaviors in schools. IN 2009 Texas began implementing the same program in juvenile detention facilities for all youths age 10-17 years of age. Data was taken of 264 male youths of different races and within that age group along with the nature of the crime and educational background. A statistic analysis performed revealed that 51% of detained juveniles were between the age of 15-17 while 15% aged between 18-20 and 1% 10-12. All 264 males had learning disabilities (LD) and (ED) emotional disturbance. According to Johnson, L. E., Wang, E. W., Gilinsky, N., He, Z., Carpenter, C., Nelson, C. M., & Scheuermann, B. K. (2013), “The impact of SW-PBIS on youth behavior was not unexpected, but a positive effect on academic achievement was found when prior study results did not. We believe this may be due to the differences between secure juvenile facility environments and general education settings and how achievement was measured.” (Pg140Para3)

Teen courts and diverting youth from participating in criminal activity is effective and I think it would send a message to their peers about not getting involved in criminal activity seeing how their friend or relative came in that situation. Regarding states and transfer laws, the rate of transfers to adult court has remained stable because it is not widely used since there’s a lot of criticism surrounding transfer laws. According to Listwan, S. J. (2013), “Finally, one of the most damaging criticisms lodged against transfer laws is regarding their effectiveness. The logic behind transferring juveniles to adult court rests with deterrence theory. If juveniles are transferred to the adult court, it sends a message to both the juvenile in question as well as other juveniles. In theory, we would expect that the juvenile who is given a more severe sanction would be less likely to commit a crime in the future. Some studies suggest that juveniles transferred to adult court are actually less likely to receive prison time, and others find they are treated more harshly in the adult system (Clarke, 1996; Kurlychek & Johnson, 2004). (Ch6.5Para10)

U. S. Supreme Court and the case Roper v. Simmons a youth under the age of 18 was sentenced to death and their Eighth Amendment Rights were violated while the case Miller v. Alabama a youth received a life sentence instead of the death penalty because the death penalty was ruled as a violation of Eighth Amendment Rights. In comparing both there is a clear violation with the case Roper v. Simmons and the judge in question is held responsible for this violation of the U. S. Constitution. I do not think the death penalty was right and it also violated human rights in the process of violation of the youths Eighth Amendment Rights.

Looking at biological, psychological, and sociological variables contributing to juvenile criminal behaviors, delinquency, and criminal activities takes in all variables of mental illness which is hereditary, exposure to drugs during prenatal or afterwards as a young child or adolescent interfering with cognitive abilities and psychosocial developmental skills. There’s programs such as (PBIS) which help youths struggling with biological, psychological, and sociological related problems. PBIS focuses on the proactive approach to rehabilitating youth through positive reinforcement which addresses problematic behaviors using positive behavior interventions and supports (PBIS) framework. This framework works on a psychological level addressing the behavioral issues and working with mental illness or disabilities if it is a factor and provides drug and alcohol counseling, aggressive replacement training, and suicide prevention services. PBIS also works with educational and juvenile justice programs. According to Sprague, J. R., Scheuermann, B., Wang, E., Nelson, C.M., Jolivette, K., I Vincent, C. (2013), “Researchers indicate that an effective juvenile justice (JJ) system communicates, promotes, and richly reinforces desirable behavior and minimizes opportunities for youth to engage in problematic behavior (Nelson, Jolivette, Leone, & Mathur, 2010). Adults in an effective JJ system provide numerous opportunities for youth to engage in positive activities and build skills and motivation as well as consistently and fairly give corrective consequences for rule infractions, consistent practices within the PBIS framework.

Within schools and the justice system PBIS has been an effective tool for helping youth achieve success and for reducing at risk behaviors, delinquency, and emotional problems attributing to criminal behaviors. Data analysis compares PBIS protocols within 40 facilities across the united states within the timeframe of 12-15 months using quasi-experimental repeated measures and each facility is a controlled experiment. This provides potential for efficacy and factual evidence of the PBIS rehabilitation effectiveness for youth struggling with mental, emotional, behavioral, or at-risk behaviors. PBIS is a realistic, effective, feasible, and affordable approach for juvenile justice and educational systems across the united states. The reduction in behavioral problems attributing to emotional or mood disorders which limits learning capability in youths would minimize the amount of crimes and criminal behaviors in juveniles across the nation.

Environmental factors play a huge role in the development of children and youth. Environmental means family upbringing were they loved or if were they neglected or abused, culture such as family values developed from another country which differ from the current country living in, moral and ethical values based on cultural norms of the family upbringing, religious or non-religious background if it affects development in a positive or negative way, political or non-political background such as anarchy and activism for example, educational background would improve the possibility of making better decisions, and the type of friends a youth surrounds themselves with would contribute to motivational factors in the society or sub-culture. Influences within the society such as social media can contribute to motivational factors or power of persuasion in a negative way which affects youths more than adults with participating in anarchy, rebellion, juvenile delinquent behaviors, defacing properties in the name of political purpose or anti-government purpose. Social media also inspires hate and prejudice of all races.

Other hereditary problems that affect developmental disorders in children and adolescents is personality or identity disorder which develop into psychopathy. Psychopathy can develop from emotional trauma such as severe and traumatic torture like in severe child abuse where there’s a dissociation of emotion and no expressing or feeling of emotion but, other contributing variables such as a pre-existing brain injury affecting development of personality from a young age. According to Glenn, A. L., Efferson, L. M. Iver, R., & Graham, J. (2017), “Psychopathy is a construct highly associated with immoral behavior, including manipulating and taking advantage of others, pathological lying, living a parasitic lifestyle, and sometimes criminal offending (Hare, 2003).” (Pg109Para1) A psychopath cannot be observed since they are undetected and unpredictable until a crime has happened such as a homicide of usually 1-2 people at a time within the time frame of every few weeks to months or even years to find the pattern.

If I could write a proposal to the state of Florida administrator it would be regarding special populations which have been a challenge for juvenile justice are new rehabilitative programs outside the normal juvenile delinquency system which treat specific special groups of juveniles with mental, emotional, and behavioral problems attributing to their offenses related to their participation or lifestyle of early starters, juvenile gangs, and juveniles sex offenders. Special populations of juvenile justice is viewed from a policy and rehabilitative standpoint. The three most common special populations of juveniles are early starters, juvenile gangs, and juvenile sex offenders. Juveniles within the special populations category must be treated outside the normal juvenile delinquency programs since they do not look or act alike and can be unpredictable. An unpredictable nature requires more care and attention by mental health and medical professionals along with law enforcement professionals.

This program will be effective countering the problem of special juveniles posing a significant imbalance to the juvenile justice system by research associated with treatment programs which prove to be effective with the special populations juvenile sex offenders. In a research case study of juvenile sex offenders sample sizes of 83 to 1,154 males with incarceration from 6 months to 9 years in a rehabilitation system were classified by a main focus group of 5 which were anxious/inhibited, impulsive/restrictive, psychopathy, conforming, and unremarkable meaning hardly a personality present. Those five groups show the unpredictable nature of juvenile sex offenders none being alike or similar in any way and each in specific categories depicting their nature or personality that can be perceived. By the attention and focus of each specific group of juveniles specifically on the special group of juvenile sex offenders it creates a way to manage and treat each juvenile based on their personality or way of learning and communicating. According to Calley, N. G. (2012), “The research to date does reflect a growing interest in understanding recidivism among the specialized population of juvenile offenders that have participated in residential treatment; however, there is a need for much more work in this area. The primary purpose of this study was to build on these findings, using past research efforts to guide the study parameters. To accomplish this, eight of the previously established risk factors were examined that included: offense type (offense history), age at initial involvement in juvenile justice (offense history), child welfare system involvement (history of abuse and/or neglect), termination of parental rights (history of abuse and/or neglect), parental criminal history, family support (family involvement), program completion status, and length of treatment stay. In addition, discharge placement was examined because of the current emphasis on reentry planning for juvenile offenders and the role that discharge placement has in reentry.” (Pg262Para1)

In conclusion, I support the juvenile justice prevention strategy of treatment programs opposed to punishment in efforts for rehabilitating youth to have a second chance at improving their lives and achieving success. The concept of social justice should be supporting societal needs for improvement such as maintaining peace and justice. If punishment is the only answer for juveniles then crime continues with a cycle of repetitive crimes and criminal behaviors. Given a second chance a youth could become a future positive influence on other juveniles and may even be a role model or become a law enforcement official themselves. Youths just need support in the right direction and that can start with our communities such as in the educational programs and with families at home.



Listwan, S. J. (2013). Introduction to juvenile justice [Electronic version]. Retrieved from https://content.ashford.edu/



Berzofsky, Marcus,  Ewing, Glynis,  DeMichele, Matthew,  Langton, Lynn,  Hyland, Shelley,  Davis, Elizabeth . Police-Public Contact Survey: Assessment and Recommendations for Producing Trend Estimates after 2011 Questionnaire RedesignBureau of Justice Statistics Research and Development Series. NCJ 250485, Washington, DC: Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics.

Jae Hong, K., & Abisaid, J. (2015). The influence of community structure on crime news coverage: structural pluralism, ethnic diversity, and local crime news. Communication & Society, 97-113. Doi:10.15581/

Tarlow, K. R. (2016). Teaching principles of inference with ANOVA. Teaching Statistics, 38(1), 16-21. Doi:10.1111/test.12085

Steinebach, C., Steinebach, U., & Brendtro, L. K. (2013). Positive Youth Psychology: Lessons from Positive Peer Culture. Reclaiming Children And Youth, 21(4), 15-21.

Johnson, L. E., Wang, E. W., Gilinsky, N., He, Z., Carpenter, C., Nelson, C. M., & Scheuermann, B. K. (2013). Youth Outcomes Following Implementation of Universal SW-PBIS Strategies in a Texas Secure Juvenile Facility. Education And Treatment Of Children, 36(3), 135-145

Sprague, J. R., Scheuermann, B., Wang, E., Nelson, C.M., Jolivette, K., I Vincent, C. (2013). Adopting and Adapting PBIS for Secure Juvenile Justice Settings: Lessons Learned. Education And Treatment Of Children, 36(3), 121-134.

For more information on this topic please read:Neighborhood Scout Crime Rates

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