Here’s why rehabilitation makes best sense for most juvenile crimes

Some voices within the criminal justice system in California and nationally still stridently demand harsh penal outcomes as go-to punishments for juvenile offenders.

Thankfully, though, their insistence that the nation’s youngest defendants be largely treated in the same way as adults is a call that no longer resonates with most people.

Strong empirical evidence — reams of it, produced year after year by respected researchers — flatly indicates the obvious, that children are not adults and are highly amenable in most cases to outcomes that seek to rehabilitate rather than punish.

We certainly know that to be true from decades of deep personal experience at the Alameda County Law Office of John W. Noonan. We note on a relevant page of our website that “we strive to find sentencing alternatives that if found responsible are rehabilitative” in juvenile matters. We know that providing a second chance is far more often a winning proposition for a young offender than is a prison door slammed in his or her face.

As we stress above, broad-based evidence staunchly supports that view. A study just released by California’s Center for Juvenile and Criminal Justice reveals that a stress on incarceration for minor defendants stemming from fear that the demographic is problematic is far from justified.

In fact, notes a principal researcher for the justice center, “teenagers and young adults are not a high crime population anymore.”

We certainly know where we stand. That is generally on the side of rehabilitative efforts for young people that provide them with a second chance for social assimilation in a positive way that helps to ensure long-term productivity.

We welcome contacts to the firm to discuss our approach and experience defending young individuals against criminal charges.

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