Thursday, January 31, 2013

Juvenile Criminal Justice

Every year nearly 100,000 youth in Texas are processed through the juvenile justice system. Since 2005, the state has seen a rise in youth-on-youth violence. For the year of 2011–12, 60% of newly admitted juvenile criminals had committed violent crimes, with 44% had known gang affiliations at the time of their intake.

Juvenile incarceration statistics tend to represent demographics vastly different from demographics representative of the societies they come from (particularly with regard to race representation). The demographic characteristics of the incarcerated juvenile population reveal several problems that interest groups in Texas try to resolve.

With the legislative session this spring, special interest groups are engaging in advocacy measures to help their causes. Among them are the efforts to get lawmakers to shut down incarceration facilities and focus on funding and supporting measures that try to prevent first-time offenses and recidivism. Further, some interest groups are urging lawmakers to shut down privately-run prisons, such as the Dawson State Jail in Dallas, TX. The groups allege that such privately-run prisons engage in poor management practices and subject the incarcerated individuals within their cells to inhuman conditions (including the inadequate provision of medical care).

Crime has always been an important area of focus for lawmakers. The prevention and reduction of instances of juvenile crime is of particular interest as these youth will grow up to define the nature of Texas’ society in the future. As the legislative session continues, citizens of the state of Texas are likely to see their elected representatives consider measures to address this important issue.

Juvenile Prison

Varun Pramanik

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