Common Misconceptions About Juvenile Charges

Interviewer: What are the most common misconceptions that families and juveniles have when they come to see you about their case?

Jack: There is a misconception among young people that ‘juvie’, which they call it, doesn’t have any teeth so to speak; any lasting negative consequences. Most teenagers or preteens believe that the extent of the case is having to put up with some old people lecturing them before they go home.

There is a serious risk of loss of freedom in terms of probation intervention in your life. You have to be drug tested, for example, your urine can be randomly tested, and a curfew is imposed. No one wants that kind of intervention in their lives, but that’s what juvenile court can and will do.

Where Can Juveniles Be Detained?

Interviewer: Do juveniles go to a juvenile jail or is there another term for they can be detained?

Juvenile Training Center

Jack: We still call it the training center. The juvenile training center, which as some judge will ask you if you know what training centers are and they’ll say, “No, it’s jail for juveniles.” It’s not quite the same, two-to-a-cell, but it is still deprivation of your freedom.

Interviewer: I’m sure you’ve been in there to visit clients; how is it different from adult jail? Is it very different or is it pretty similar?

Jack: It is age appropriate different. There is an emphasis on counseling, an emphasis on education, and recreation but they are not trying to take you out of society, they are trying to get you to a point where when you return to society you are going to be a better person than when you came in.

Residential Placements

There are residential placements if the court feels you need to be in specialized settings, for example, if you have committed sex crimes.

Interviewer: Is that similar to a state run foster home?

Jack: There is more supervision and different kind of staffing at the residential placements. These are facilities with highly specialized counselors to deal with the juveniles’ unique problems.

Interviewer: Are there any other common misconceptions that you encounter when these families come in to see you?

Short-Term Facilities

Jack: There is also detention, which will hold you for a week or two weeks until the court feels that you are no longer a risk to yourself or society. That’s a short-term facility.

Interviewer: Again, how bad is that facility compared to adult jails?

Jack: The environment can be frightening in so far as it’s not the population you want to be amongst. It’s generally other young people who have done bad things and they tend to think they’re tough and they can be scary if you come from a comfortable existence.

By Jack O’Donnell

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