View Full Version : Juvenile offenders in prison!

Feb 27th, 2002, 10:57 PM
I'm working around the theme of minors and crime at university and more specifically, alternative sanctions for juveniles. That includes community services and educational projects.
However lately there has been a lot of talking about a prison for minors. Not an open or closed institution, cause they already exist, but a real prison like the ones for adults.

We're talking here about kids, younger than 18, so not just 16 or 17 but also 14, 12, 9 or even younger. Of course only the ones who've committed the most serious crimes would go to that prison. So I was wondering what your views are on this subject. Are you pro or contra a prison for minors and for what reasons?

nasty nick#2
Feb 27th, 2002, 11:07 PM
hmmm difficult too say. Here in sweden where i live everyone under 18 who has commited a severe crime slips away from the prison. It doesn't matter what they have done, the're just too young to be sent to prison it seems. As i see it that's wrong. If someone has commited a crime like Murder or Rape they are mature enough to know what they've done and could just aswell be sentenced to prison, atleast if they are over 15.

Feb 27th, 2002, 11:23 PM
Over here, minors (-18 years) cannot go to prison, with one exception though, a minor, older than 14 years can be locked up in prison for a maximum of 14 days if he has committed a serious crime and should be put in an institution but there was no room free for him.

However a distiction is made between minors of 16-18 years and minors -16 years. They all fall under the jurisdiction of a youth court but the first ones can be send to a normal court if the judge thinks that the crimes they have committed are too serious. However they cannot be send to prison, only to a closed institution.

But the Belgian government has decided to build a real youth prison for minors who have committed serious offences. I just think it's wrong to lock up children. I believe that would do more harm than good to their personality.

nasty nick#2
Feb 27th, 2002, 11:33 PM
locking in minors is in some way wrong, but in the other hand, what shall we do with them instead? let's say someone has commited murder. should he be sent back to shoool and do the same thing again?

they have some kind of Youth Prisons here i believe, but it's more some kind of rehabilation. Mostly don't stay there that long and personally i don't think these places are so good either.

nah i don't know exactly what to do. This is a very difficult topic.

You remember in England 10 years ago when two 10 year old boys killed a 4 year old kid on a shopping centre? they were sentenced to 30 years in prison, and they were only kids themselves. Sure they have to do something in these cases, but for god sake, i don't think these guys were mature enough to know what they did, and what will they learn in prison?. Kids in this age needs to be with their family, beeing in a prison with terrorists, murderers and rapists will only hurt them. How will they be in 30 years when they come out? will they get a job and build a family and live a normal life? No way, theie lifes are already destroyed.

Feb 28th, 2002, 12:18 AM
Those two boys you speak of weren't sent to prison, they were sent to a juvenile detention centre and have actually been released now ...

Of course, they've been given new identities to stop people from finding them and exacting revenge.

I wouldn't send any kids to prison with adults personally - not really the ideal influences if your goal is eventual rehabilitation.

Feb 28th, 2002, 01:07 AM
I think maybe like a boot camp setting w/classes for learning that would be mandatory would be better than a 'prison' as I would define it.

Ted of Teds Tennis
Feb 28th, 2002, 03:59 AM

Since your posts imply you're from Belgium, let's take a hypothetical case: Suppose Marc Dutroux had only been 15 years old when he committed the crimes he did as an adult. What should have been done with him in that case?

BTW: I don't know the answer. It's just food for thought.

Sam L
Feb 28th, 2002, 07:44 AM
If they did the crime then YES Lock them up and lock them up for good! What about those kids that killed James Bolger?

Anyway there are just far toooo many little juvenile offenders getting away with waaaaaay too much stuff. And they know what they're doing for sure. I say no second chance. If they do adult crimes they should pay like adults! Yes bring on prisons

Feb 28th, 2002, 06:31 PM
Ted, I'm not really sure what should have been done in that case, I don't even know what should be done with Marc Dutroux now, let alone if he would have been only 15 years old. However I think locking away children is a wrong method, no matter how serious the crimes they are guilty of. I believe that minors are still changing mentally, plus most of them go through a tough time during puberty and might turn out to become perfect adults. So should we punish children like we punish adults? I'm not really convinced. I think minors need a different approach focused on their qualities rather than punishing them for what they did.

Beige, I meant prisons like the ones for adults. You might be right in saying that some kids really need these kind of drastic measures but somehow I think it will cause them more harm than good.

Feb 28th, 2002, 10:29 PM
But locking them up n a prison is not the right way I think. I believe minors need a more pro-active approach, like discussions, making them work in group, etc....Those extreme measures will not change them in a positive way but maybe locking them up is the only solution for some. However I do believe that minors, unlike some adults can be put on the right path again no matter how serious their crime was.

Feb 28th, 2002, 11:01 PM
Well josh, in Canada our jouvies are totally protected, from the minute they commit a crime their names can not be released and they are usually sent to a jouvenile hall. Not sure if it is the same where you are. I feel that so many in Canada know this as they are commiting the crime. They know that they will be protected and perhaps it makes it a little easier to commit the crime, knowing that their identity will not be made public knowledge. I find that totally frustrating. I can't imagine the families of murder victims knowing that the person that killed their loved one is being protected. I agree with you that the child has a chance to turn around and puting them in a prison setting would not help, however if something happend to a member of my family at the hands of someone under 18 I can't say I would want their punishment to be group therapy. All I know is Canada is a good example of a very juvenille protective society, maybe it will work. That remains to be seen. It will be interesting to see where all the "protected jouvenilles" are in 20 years :)

Mar 1st, 2002, 03:13 PM
I do wonder, what exactly is the difference between a closed detention centre and a youth prison? Sorry if this seems a stupid question.

IMO juveniles offenders do require special care, for two reasons. First of all, half of the time kids don't realise what they did was so bad. They know the destinction between good and bad, but not how bad certain things are, I don't think they quite know the scales of bad (don't know if I'm making myself clear). Kids know they shouldn't be stealing, just like they know they shouldn't lie to someone. But do they realise that stealing is much worse than lying? Do they know the difference between being naughty and performing a hideous crime?
Second of all, no matter how bad the crime, one day these kids will have to be brought back into our society. You can't lock them up forever. Imagine, a 10-year is locked away for 30 years! By the time he's released he's 40! How on earth is this person to live in our society? That's why I think it was a good thing the Bulger killers were released. They'd have to be released at some point anyway. It's better to release them when they're at an age where they can still do something with their life. For society's sake, it's better to give these kids a second chance, a chance for a relatively normal life rather than locking them up for 30 years and releasing them at a time when there's no hope for them. They'd be a real danger to society then, IMO.

Mar 1st, 2002, 03:43 PM
It is sad to say more and more juvenile delinquents are committing serious crimes at younger ages! I personally think they should go to prison, depending on how serious their crime was. If a minor murdered a person/people, then I strongly believe they should go to prison. I agree with Sam L, if they committed adult crimes, they should pay for it like adults do because whether they are 18 and above, they still know what's right and what's wrong and just because they are minors, doesn't mean they are any less dangerous than adult criminals. Juveniles get away with it so many times. Do you guys really think a few months in booth camp, going to institutional hospitals or counseling will change them?? Some might, but for most of them? I don't think so.

Bright Red
Mar 1st, 2002, 04:26 PM
Interesting thread.

I started to post yesterday, but I didn't have time to say all I wanted to say about it. Today, most of my thoughts have already been captured.

I am on the side of the fence that is against sending juveniles to prison. When a child commits a crime, three things should de addressed.

1) How do we rehabilitate the child?
2) How do we deter other children from committing the crime?
3) How do we punish the child?

To me, the most important of the three is #1 because children are indeed "moldable". And also because so many things are going on physically and emotionally during youth and adolescence that impact a person's behavior. It is in reaching this objective that prison fails. It does not rehabilitate--it does the opposite. Children (and adults) will more likely learn to be worse after spending time in prison. This is due, in part, to the fact that fellow inmates share crime stories and strategies. That's not what we need for someone that might someday be reintroduced into society.

Other methods might do a better job of rehabiliting (education facilities under protective custody), but often fail as deterrents or punishment -- as the Canadian example shows.

So how do you achieve all three?

Everything depends on the severity of the crime, so there must be a graduated scale for the remedy. I feel that for the most severe crimes, parents must be partly held accountable somehow for the action since it is their responsibility more than anyone else's to rear their own child properly. Sure there are nice parents and mean kids, but is the parents' failure to exert authority and impose discipline the reason for the bad child? On the flip side, the parents might be neglecting the child (the most like scenario IMO). Imposing some sort of sanction against the parents, as harsh as it may seem, might make parents more responsible (ie, like keeping guns put away better, or punishing their kids when the kids misbehave, or giving the child the attention s/he needs).

Now for the child. For severe crimes, take the child away from the parents. That would serve partly as punishment for the child and a sanction for the parents. Continue to educate the child and provide the child some sort of psychiatric treatment. Take away some of the freedoms of being a child by making the kid work. Give the kids salary to the victim or the victim's family. When the offender reaches legal age, tightly monitor his/her actions after release. This may be via parole or a tracking device.

And most importantly, let all kids know what awaits them if they choose a life of crime.

Mar 1st, 2002, 05:22 PM
Tine, the difference between a closed detention centre and a prison is quite small. The kids are staying in age groups and are followed by educators, the only difference is the security. A prison has tighter and more visible security. F.e. the youth prison they are building in Everberg has double walls of 6 metres high and more hi-tech security material. A closed detention centre doesn't allow the kids to leave the premises but they are not put into a fortress with walls and watchtowers and stuff.

Bright Red, I don't think we should punish the kid and the parents, unless of course the child was neglected or abused and his behaviour was a result of this. But in that case we should punish the parents and not the child.
In many cases the parents have given their child a good education but somehow they lost authority, even though they tried everything in their power to keep their child on the right track. In that case we should punish the child but in a pro-active way, teach him to function in society, make him realise what he did wrong, encourage him in exploring his talents, etc....Try to involve the parents but don't punish them. If the child did something wrong and it wasn't the parent's fault, let the child repair the damages if that's possible, learn him to be responsible.

Mar 1st, 2002, 05:33 PM
Tracey, let's hope the results in 20 years will be positive but personally I think they will be better than if we had locked up those minors for 20 years and put them then back into society.

Beige, prevention is certainly a very important matter. And parents play an important role in this but maybe schools can do more too to make kids feel as an entire part of society. Through various project, small things like picking up garbage or helping old people,...I believe we can let children grow into responsible adults. Society of today is maybe a bit too individualistic and too competitive...