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Public Opinion Favors Rehabilitation for Juvenile Offenders

Law Office of Katie Walsh
Public Opinion Favors Rehabilitation for Juvenile Offenders

Young people are better served when they receive treatment for the issues that led to their criminal acts than when they are simply incarcerated for their offenses. This opinion has been reinforced by research and is trending in approaches seen throughout the US. Recent surveys have shown that public opinion favors rehabilitation for juvenile offenders.

Agreement Across All Lines

A 2017 poll showed that there is agreement across racial and political lines that the juvenile justice system should place more emphasis on rehabilitating juvenile offenders and place far less emphasis on punishment and prison. The majority of survey participants said that these youth deserve a second chance and that society in general is also better off when the teens are helped rather than incarcerated.

The study was sponsored by the Youth First Initiative. Liz Ryan, CEO of the initiative, said that “the poll shows policymakers that they should be doing this. Young people should be given opportunities, not punishment. You can hold people accountable without incarceration.”

Education and Preventive Measures

More than three-fourths of the poll’s participants said they favored education and preventive measures over an approach of punishment. 90% of the respondents said that families should be involved in designing treatment and rehabilitation plans for youths charged with crimes, a slight increase over the previous year’s survey results.

In addition, 94% said that the most important job of the juvenile justice system is to make sure youth get their lives back on track and learn how to refrain from a continued life of crime. Marcy Mistrett, CEO of the Campaign for Youth Justice, commenting about those results, said, “I think the general public understands that locking up kids leads to more crime, not less. If you treat people with dignity and provide services you can actually help reduce crime.”

Rehabilitation Works

The survey results show that people in the US support youth criminal justice reform, particularly as they believe that rehabilitation works. They also believe that young people who have committed a delinquent act are capable of positive change. The survey respondents also say that rehabilitation can save taxpayer dollars over incarceration.

Among the poll respondents, 79% agreed with the statement that “When it comes to youth who have committed delinquent acts, the best thing for society is to rehabilitate them so they can become productive members of society.” Also, 78% agreed that “The youth justice system should provide youth with more opportunity to better themselves.”

Recidivism Rates

The rate of recidivism, or a return to jail for another crime after serving one sentence, is high among juveniles who are incarcerated. The numbers show that:

  • 66% of juveniles who have been arrested will become repeat offenders within 24 months. In fact, 49% of young people become repeat offenders within the first year.
  • The recidivism rates among males is 70% of offenders in the 24 months after being first arrested.
  • The recidivism rates among females is 43% of offenders in the 24 months after being first arrested.
  • 44% of repeat juvenile offenders are re-arrested for a felony.

Rehabilitation Efforts

Additional research studies have shown that there is a high rate of mental health problems among juvenile offenders, with one in five estimated to suffer from severe functional impairment as a result. There has also been a reported association between mental health problems and mortality in incarcerated juveniles, including an elevated suicide rate for male youth. These mental health problems must be a target in interventions for juvenile offenders as there is a clear need for effective interventions which address both the clinical and the criminal behavior needs of these individuals.

Relationships with their family and with their peers have also been recognized as key factors in the criminal behavior profile of juvenile offenders. Rehabilitation for these youth should involve a family-focused intervention focused on those characteristics related to anti-social behavior, including their family relationships and their associations with their peers. Evidence suggests that these are beneficial rehabilitation approaches.

As opposed to incarceration, behavior therapy has been associated with a significant reduction in the likelihood that the juvenile will re-offend. When the youth participate in these therapy sessions, they are significantly less likely to become involved in serious and violent offending.

Another aspect of rehabilitation includes education and skills-based training. An important aspect of successful rehabilitation, an improvement has been shown in areas including self-belief and protection against future criminal activities when youth are engaged in a positive way in meaningful activities that will improve their vocational and intellectual skills.

Orange County Juvenile Defense Attorney

Please contact the Law Offices of Katie Walsh if your son or daughter is in legal trouble or faces school expulsion. Attorney Walsh has the expertise to advocate for your loved one’s well-being successfully. For a free consultation, call Katie Walsh at (714) 351-0178.

Client Reviews

I hired attorney Katie Walsh to help my son when he was found with a large amount of drugs on school campus. She got us through the Expulsion Hearing, and miraculously he can go back to school at the winter semester...

AR- parent of minor client

I hired Katie Walsh to have my felony convictions expunged. She was able to expunge my record within 6 weeks of me giving her all the information. Even though technically I had a probation violation, and therefore the...

AR, criminal client

My 16 year old son was charged with possession of Marijuana, HS 11357(b). I was very concerned about what would happen to him and how this would affect his future. I contacted Ms. Walsh and she assured me that everything...

CT, parent of juvenile client

My child was charged with Felony Penal Code 597(a)- Animal Cruelty. After hiring Katie Walsh, she got the charges reduced to a misdemeanor, counseling, and 40 hours of chores at home. We come back in 6 months and the...

DH - Parent of Juvenile client

I hired Katie Walsh to represent my son on sexual abuse allegations- P.C. 288(a) and P.C. 288(b)- they were Strike Charges. After negotiating with the D.A., she got all the strike charges dismissed, and got my son...

DR- mother of juvenile client

Katie Walsh was fantastic throughout this entire process! My 13 year old son was charged with two counts of lewd act on a minor, PC 288(a) and was in juvenile hall. After hiring Ms. Walsh, she GOT MY SON OUT OF JAIL and...

EG, parent of juvenile client

My 14 year old son was arrested at school for P.C. 311 (child pornography). My son had innocent and stupid nude pictures of himself and friends on his phone. Ms. Walsh was extremely easy to talk to, and made my son feel...

GK,TK, parents of juvenile client

Ms. Walsh was a life saver when I didn't know what was going on, or how to handle the situation. My young daughter was attacked at her middle school and was seriously injured. At a time when both the school and the...

HA, mother of 13 year old Victim Rights client

I hired Katie Walsh to seal my juvenile record of PC 288(a) (lewd act on a minor), after my request had been denied by a Judge and by the Probation Department. After speaking with Probation, the DA and the Judge at a...

JW, former juvenile client

I was charged with a Felony Conspiracy charge- PC 182. After hiring Ms. Walsh she got my charged reduced to a misdemeanor right away, and now I just have to do community service and in 6 months my entire case will be...

KP, juvenile client

Ms. Walsh was like a breath of fresh air throughout this entire process. I was uncertain about the outcome, but she told me everything would be ok- and it was. She had my juvenile record sealed within 3 months of...

LR, former juvenile client

Ms. Walsh got the judge to terminate my son's probation and seal his 2 juvenile cases (Penal Code 288(a) and Penal Code 242) even though he had violated my probation by picking up a new case. By getting his record sealed...

MB- mother of juvenile client

At a very difficult time in my life I contacted attorney Katie Walsh. I am a teacher and was being harassed/stalked by a parent at my school. I wanted a Restraining Order against this person. Ms. Walsh listened to me...

MB, restraining order client

My son was charged with Lewd Conduct, P.C. 647 out of Downey, CA. After hiring Ms. Walsh, she spoke with the District Attorney, Probation, and the Judge. Even though the judge was not pleased with the offer, she was able...

MG, parent of minor

It is with sincere gratitude that I send this recommendation As a parent of a child that was arrested on a Felony Domestic Abuse charge and over 2000 miles away I had to rely on friend of a friends word that you would...

MPF, mother of criminal client

I really liked having Ms. Walsh as my attorney. She visited me in Juvenile Hall. I was charged with four counts of Robbery (Penal Code 211). This was my 8th juvenile petition. Ms. Walsh got 2 of the robbery charges...

MU, juvenile client

I was arrested for a felony Domestic charge, PC 273.5(a). After I hired Katie Walsh, my entire case was dismissed. I never had to appear in court. I felt very comfortable with Ms. Walsh- she was easy to speak with...

NF, criminal client

Katie was instrumental in helping me with a criminal matter as an advocate for me and my children when I was a named victim in a DV case. She patiently and expediently addressed all of my questions and was an invaluable...


My daughter was pulled over arrested for having a Fake ID. After hiring Ms. Walsh my daughter did not have to plead guilty- which would have affected her license status. She did community service, completed a legal...


My 14 year old daughter was involved in an assault and battery- PC 240/242, in Irvine. After hiring Katie Walsh the case was not referred to Court. My daughter was able to complete a class and the case will be dismissed...

SG, mother a juvenile client

My son was charged with possession of Child Pornography P.C. 311.11(a) - a charge I did not realize a child could be guilty of! As parents were beside ourselves when we found this out, and contacted Katie Walsh. She...

SH- mother of juvenile client

From San Diego I contacted Ms. Walsh about sealing my juvenile record in Orange County regarding a Petty Theft charge. She was always very responsive to any of my questions, and consistently kept me updated. Even though...

XL, juvenile client

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