Sample Social Work and Human Services Essay Paper on Juvenile Recidivism

Juvenile Recidivism


Juveniles in society often exhibit behaviors that are often contrary to societal cultural norms and beliefs. Moreover, such behaviors are not congruent to societal expectations and thus violate already established structures and criminal codes that safeguard other society members. Juvenile courts and justice systems were established to help cater for juvenile criminals by offering platforms for rehabilitation so as to prevent future criminal activities. The paper highlights recidivism which is a common concept in criminal justice and entails relapse by an individual into criminal behavior even after undergoing rehabilitation and intervention from previous crime. This is often established through re-arrest or reconviction and results to a person especially juvenile returning back to prison or police custody during a three-year period after release.

Juvenile Recidivism Problem

Studies have established that juvenile criminal behaviors are concepts that everybody is abreast with despite the media giving turning a blind eye (Farrington & Welsh, 2007). Significantly, media has been reporting murders, theft and other anti-social vices committed by juveniles but fail to report on how to address juvenile recidivism through reduction of those children facing re-arrests or re-conviction and present how to increase rehabilitation for the affected section of population. In United States, there is no official recidivism rate because this is a huge problem that varies considerably across different states. Evidence presented confirms that ultimately the goal of juvenile justice system is to rehabilitate and ensure that juveniles released from correctional facilities remain crime free and behave according to accepted social norms. Surveys conducted in Indiana establishes that out of the 1,027 juveniles released in 2010, 79.1% (812) were successfully re-integrated into their communities and were not incarcerated in an adult correctional facility within three years of their release (Hess etal, 2010). 


Data presented by Bureau of Justice Statistics have affirmed that the high rates of recidivism were witnessed among released prisoners. Notably, studies tracked over 400,000 prisoners who were released in 30 states and established that 67.8 released convicts were re-arrested after three years (Siegel & Welsh, 2011). Consequently, about 76.6 percent of released juvenile prisoners were rearrested after five years, among those who were rearrested by arrested at the end of the first year. When broken down, 82 percent of those who were rearrested were property offenders while 76 percent had drug related issues and 73 percent were public order offenders. The rates of recidivism were different in respect to gender, this is supported by the assertion that juveniles released in 2011 comprised of 36.2 percent males and 22.3 percent were females (Siegel & Welsh, 2011).  The problem was severe among African American juveniles because they comprised 40.6 percent, Hispanic juvenile accounted for 34.4 percent and Caucasian juveniles returned to incarceration at a rate of 31.5 percent (Siegel & Welsh, 2011). 

Diversion Programs to Reduce Recidivism

Diversion programs are aimed at redirecting juveniles away from the usual judicial system and procedures and in the process holding them accountable for the actions in society. Such programs are designed to be less costly compared to court proceedings because of the ability to cut down caseloads concerning juveniles. Examples of diversion programs include restorative judicial programs that allows for family conferencing to give room for dialogue. Consequently, juveniles can be involved actively in community service to shape behaviors and instill sense of responsibility and belongingness to the community. In addition, there is need to develop and build skills to allow juveniles to acquire the necessary skills and knowledge that may be useful in community setting. Studies have established that other diversion programs may include family treatment, organized drug and youth courts (Watson, 2007).  


Recidivism is a problem that manifests itself in society and most people are familiar with it. Rehabilitation is central in preventing juveniles from engaging in criminal activities after they are released from correctional facilities. Therefore, community and social workers should come in and help reduce the problem through counseling and other correctional programs.


Farrington, D. P., & Welsh, B. (2007). Saving children from a life of crime: Early risk factors

            and effective interventions. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Hess, K. M., Orthmann, C. M. H., & Drowns, R. W. (2010). Juvenile justice. Belmont, CA:


Siegel, L. J., & Welsh, B. (2011). Juvenile delinquency: The core. Belmont, CA:

            Wadsworth/Cengage Learning.

Watson, C. M. (2007). Examining juvenile crime and recidivism. Huntington, WV: Marshall

 University Libraries.