Types of Rehabilitation and Treatments for Juvenile offenders


Rehabilitating young offenders has become an increasingly debated subject. With a sizable number of these juveniles being re-offenders, the correctional programs have turned rehabilitation and treatment into a primary priority. Due to age, young offenders are treated more contrarily than adult criminals. There is more emphasis on rehabilitation and treatment than just penance. In recent years, society has targeted on reaching out to at-risk youths. Various researches have indicated that some of these strategies are more effective than others. Conversely, the type of strategies used depends on the resources available as well as the crime committed by the individual. This paper focuses on assessing different strategies of rehabilitation and treatment that are available to young offenders, such as academic and vocational training, community drug treatment, drug court, reasoning and rehabilitation, and MST for juveniles. It aims to discuss different approaches and goals for communities intending to reduce the rate of juvenile recidivism and effectively rehabilitate these offenders.

Types of Rehabilitation and Treatments for Juvenile offenders


Crime is an aspect of life that exists in our society whether it is acknowledged or ignored. Crime is being committed over and over again by youths. Juvenile offenses have been on the rise and yet as crime rises so does the number of offenders that go to rehabilitation facilities to serve time for the crime they have committed. As argued out by Driver & Eve (2009), more and more previously penalized juveniles return to the justice system at a terrifyingly high rate. The frequency of crime recidivism is on the rise. Although originally considered effective in locking up juvenile offenders, overreliance on incarceration is currently of limited and reducing effectiveness as an offense-control approach. In the long run, the incarceration of juveniles has to get out of the correctional facilities and get -incorporated back into the community once the duration has been served. Various studies show that unlike incarceration, which actually upturns offender recidivism, an effectively designed and applied recidivism-reduction approach can effectively cut down offender recidivism. Such approaches are more effective than incarceration in lessening the rate of crime. According to Hempel, Hjalmar & Nicole (2013), effective strategies should focus on enabling ‘Good Lives’ among young offenders. These strategies if used will minimize the chances of re-offending in contradiction to other strategies that if used will have less noticeable significance on offending.

Effective strategies to reduce recidivism and produce other positive outcomes, conversely, has been quite problematic. Rehabilitation institutions apply several treatment approaches, but, in most instances, the accomplishment of those strategies is not easy to determine and is not known. Bechtel, Christopher & Edward (2009) identify a range of factors that have been demonstrated to be predictive of change in a range of studies on re-offending reduction. This set of factors is referred to as dynamic needs (Cooper, 2011). These include education and vocation training, life skills, and pro-social attitudes.

Dealing successfully with young delinquency encompasses two aspects but overlapping endeavors. These are prevention and intervention. Each of these aspects has different purposes and requires the effort of different actors. For this paper, we define prevention as a community -based program that seeks to help youth avoid delinquent behavior. On the other hand, prevention efforts are primarily developed by different rehabilitation institutions (Bechtel, Christopher & Edward, 2009). The purpose of prevention emphasizes on youths who may be at risk for delinquent behavior but have not been referred to juvenile justice institutions in response to a purported delinquent offense (Rodriguez, 2010).

Risk Level and Juvenile Rehabilitation

Juveniles who get through the juvenile justice program are managed at local levels or through dispositional alternatives. Other juveniles with especially egregious offenses or who have repeated criminal behaviors in spite of local interventions are processed through junior courts and sentenced to the youth rehabilitation administration. Some approaches apply behavioral treatment interventions to teach various skills required to manage behavior and meet their needs in safe ways. Other models are as well acknowledged to deliver services that are known to reduce juvenile offenses. These include therapy sessions, such as functional family therapy, and vocational and aggression replacement training. Conversely, it is likely that some juveniles are normally more responsive to intervention approaches than others and thus demonstrate higher effects across a wide variety of program types.

The rehabilitative approach focuses on the treatment of the offenders with the supposition that interventions such as probation supervision, training, work readiness, cognitive skills training, and behavior therapy change behavior and minimize the frequency of juvenile offenses (Hempel, Nicole & Hjalmar, 2013). Rehabilitation is integral to youth delinquents and re-entry into the community since going through rehabilitation lays the foundation to lead a healthy lifestyle in society once one is out of the program. The rehabilitation approach is more effective than the retributive approach since the retributive strategy primarily focuses on punishing offenders.

As noted by Barton, William & Mackin (2012), rehabilitation strategies are quite practical since some rehabilitative methods focus on the personal needs of young offenders while giving them realistic options to make it in society without recidivating. This approach is in conformance with the Strain theory stating that in life there are “objectives and means” and everybody wants to attain their self-vision (Bickel, 2010). Rehabilitation is integral since it teaches an individual throughout the process the steps that are necessary for achieving goals and the means of getting their goals accomplished in an appropriate way. To be effective, the rehabilitation approach has to be quite realistic to implement and teach young offenders how to make it in the community after being treated (Barton, William & Mackin, 2012).

Therapeutic Approach

Group Therapy

As argued by Cooper (2011), a key point why group therapy is quite effective is because it enables the therapist to take a moderator role while allowing offenders to challenge themselves in order to figure out issues they deal with to overcome. Group therapy forms a foundation for harmonies amongst young offenders. This way, they are more drawn upon common experiences as opposed to being singled out. Bickel (2010), points out that this approach of treatment makes juvenile delinquents be more participatory, thus it is a better approach. Since young criminals are allowed to draw on other encounters of the other group members. This makes the session to be even more meaningful and effective.

Residential Fallibilities

This approach offers a strong advantage for young offenders while in the process of rehabilitation since this strategy is unique in offering a lot of services that these offenders need. Young delinquents can receive the services they need and have a safe environment that is essential and helpful in the transition process back into society. Several studies demonstrate that residential fallibilities play an integral role in reducing recidivism (Cooper, 2011). Young offenders are not perpetrating more offenses since “they have a positive environment to prosper in than going back to the original environment that thrived crime” (Bickel, 2010).

Family Involvement and Therapy

This is an essential component of the rehabilitation process for juvenile offenders. According to Driver & Eve (2009), many young offenders come from backgrounds where there are many siblings so time is somehow stretched and each member does not receive enough attention (Cooper, 2011). Furthermore, the parents are not quite involved due to other issues, such as drug abuse or poverty. With the family involvement approach, families tend to be quite supportive to help the former offender overcome difficult experiences while under the rehabilitation process. In addition, the family of the former lawbreaker gets the opportunity to process the state of the child. This way, the process enables the entire family to be rehabilitated. The process enables reputable social bonds to develop throughout the treatment process. Young offenders are less prone to recidivate since they are redeveloping a strong foundational relationship.

Vocation Training and Placements

Vocation training is considered by many to be one of the top effective approaches for reducing recidivism and criminal activity among offenders. This approach is also known to provide an alternative to incarceration. It encompasses access to work placements given to young offenders to offer the opportunity to better prepare for work by practicing skills gained in a real work environment. Vocational training approaches stimulate offenders, both physically and mentally, and where there are connections to real jobs. This training turns out to be something that changes offenders’ lives once they get out of the facilities (Bickel, 2010). Several studies have proven that educational attainment is a significant aspect in reducing recidivism. However, the success of the offenders is quite dependent upon participating agents and the resources that juveniles need in order to become successful once they are remitted back into mainstream society (Bickel, 2010). A major part of this process is hard and soft employment skills.

Vocational training institutions provide a range of services, which is integral to offenders’ success. One strategy that is commonly used is the welding program. According to Barton, William & Juliette (2012), almost every young offender who has attained multiple certificates in a range of welding skills before being paroled is employed and successful in society (Bickel, 2010). This is because these offenders appear to be quite confident when they have a skill that they are trained in. This way, it makes it easier to transition back into mainstream society.

While there is hypothetical proof for the viability of vocational training in the close watch, less is experimentally shown about the direct impact of such strategies on reducing juvenile recidivism (Barton, William & Juliette, 2012). Vocational training is always a component of rehabilitation. However, the strategy is used as a complementing component of formal education. Part of this training encompasses an apprenticeship to complement the training. According to Baglivio (2009), learning a trade has proven to offer juveniles a lot of opportunities outside of a life of crime. Vocational education is integral since the offender has no difficulty in transforming back into society.

Specialty Courts

Specialty courts aim to assist low-level young criminal defendants dealing with mental health, social, and drug problems from becoming re-offenders. This approach meets the intended goal by providing treatment and close observation. These specialty courts aim to address the fundamental concerns that contributed to the individual’s participation in the judicial program. As argued by Barton, William & Mackin (2012), these concerns are addressed with community safety in mind. The specialty court approach tries to coordinate various efforts between the court team and the institutions outside the court system. This way, they ensure that individuals participating receive appropriate privacy. The team is often involved in several treatment aspects throughout the process.

Drug Treatment

Drug court is a common type of youth rehabilitation program. It is a specialized court docket, or part of judges’ calendars of cases, that often targets nonviolent offenders with substance abuse problems. Young offenders that are engaged in drug crimes may be processed through drug court. Drug courts offer offenders intensive court supervision, compulsory drug assessment, substance abuse treatment, as well as social service as an unconventional to adjudication or incarceration. As a result, they are intended to discontinue the cycle of drug abuse, addiction, as well as crime through a behavior change programs.

Under this framework, judges and other participating agents monitor a participant’s substance abuse treatment and program compliance, and judges can impose immediately and graduated sanctions if offenders fail to comply with the program’s guidelines. Graduated approvals can encompass more frequent drug testing, in-patient detoxification and treatment, extra court appearance, and short durations of incarceration that may increase as an offender’s infractions accumulate (Bickel, 2010).

Drug courts have three primary goals; to reduce recidivism among participants, reduce substance abuse among participants, and rehabilitate young offenders to improve their likelihood of effective reintegration into the community by offering social services, such as, training, basic education, employment, and house assistance. Substance treatments are intended and developed at the local level. However, they primarily depend on the needs and resources of the society where they are developed.

In order to motivate participants’ continued compliance, drug courts also offer incentives, such as fewer drug tests, reduced court appearances, and perhaps the dismissal of criminal charges or reduced or put aside sentences if the strategy is effectively completed. By applying exhaustively monitored long-term substance abuse treatment into the program and coercing abstinence from participants, drug court programs aim to assist substance abuse offenders to break the cycle of drug use and criminal offending. According to Bickel (2010), drug courts can minimize drug abuse, recidivism, as well as incarceration among drug offenders. Thus, the drug court strategy depicts one effective means of reducing drug demand among substance-abusing offenders.

Although these are drug courts in several dominions, it is unclear how the drug-abusing offenders take part in these programs, or how well they fare after successfully coming out of the drug court program. Some evidence demonstrates that only a small portion of potential participants is in fact encompassed in these drug treatment programs. Dissimilarities in the way drug courts determine the admissibility, offer substance abuse treatment, supervise participants, as well as enforce compliance reflect the adaptability of the drug court framework, but also complicate program evaluations, comparisons, and cost-benefit analyses. However, there are several pieces of evidence that demonstrate that drug court reduces substance abuse and recidivism among young offenders as compared to nonparticipants (Cooper, 2011).

Referral Order.

This is basically a contract made between youth and panel members to avoid re-offending. When a juvenile offender pleads guilty in court to first crime, the common result is a Referral order. The court sets the length of the sentence depending on the assessment of the level of the crime committed. A juvenile under this order is required to adhere to the behavior rules during the meet-ups and attend all the meet-ups. Failure to which can result in – convening the panel.

Panel meet-ups are held in community venues, where possible. During these meet-ups, the discussion with the offender, victims, and family members and the drawing up of the contract is headed by the community panel members, one of whom will chair. This way, “the community panel members are encouraged to suggest interventions for inclusion in contracts that draw on society rather than just youth offending team resources” (Bickel, 2010, p.39). This makes it an even more supportive and effective approach to rehabilitating a first-time juvenile offender. Most importantly, these orders result in greater participation of local communities as well as businesses in the Juvenile Justice system, while extending the collaboration between child offending teams and their partner agencies.

Family and Domestic Violence Courts

The primary goal of domestic violence courts is the victim’s safety and the liability of the young offender. They aim at improving the criminal justice response in order to reduce these types of offenses by increasing the trial of the victim. This strategy is acknowledged to provide the necessary support to various services while improving community awareness of the occurrence of domestic violence. In this process, the court operates mainly in an adversarial and non-therapeutic environment.


Over recent years, research has proven that certain rehabilitation strategies are quite viable. Domestic substance abuse treatment, therapeutic programs, vocational and education training, family involvement, and residential fallibility programs support this claim. Conversely, rehabilitation and the rate of effectiveness of the young delinquents are dependent upon every agent involved in the process willing to make the changes and sacrifices necessary to attain the goal of a rehabilitated junior re-admitting to society as an upright citizen. This should play a key purpose in the effectiveness or failure of young offenders (Bickel, 2010). This paper has found all these strategies as effective approaches to rehabilitating and treating juvenile offenders. However, they are in most cases targeted at higher-risk offenders. As pointed out by Cooper (2011), treatment in public settings, custodial programs, and youth justice programs are relatively less effective than other conventional methods. Rehabilitation programs offered in the community setting are quite effective. Nonetheless, other aspects may be put into consideration (Dickerson, Crystal, and Ramie, 2012).

Again, it is essential to acknowledge that rehabilitation is not the only effective crime prevention strategy for juveniles. Combating crime can start at the initial stages than when there is a need to be a response to offending juveniles. As a result, these strategies can be met by addressing communities while ensuring that every welfare of the society, such as education, safety, and employment placements, is catered for. All in all, it requires the organization of service providers, such as correctional institutions, enforcement, and training.


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