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Initially not intended to house non-violent criminal offenders, current trends indicate that youths convicted of crimes, even very minor offenses, are being increasingly committed to detention centers in preference to the implementation of less stringent methods of punishment and rehabilitation (Foley, 2001). However, the large-scale use of detention centers as the sole method of deterring youth crime is insufficient to the purpose as it increases the familiarity and acceptance of criminal attitudes and behaviors, has a negative impact on the mental condition of detainees, and hinders both education and the healthy development of acceptable social behaviors.
The detention of minors who have exhibited criminal tendencies and/or engaged in illegal activities within this type of large, secure holding facility does not result in a direct, significant level of discouragement to future crime. On the contrary, communal youth housing practices used in such detention facilities has been proven to create an atmosphere which aggravates the rate of recidivism among minors. Studies based on information compiled from multiple states suggest that as many as 60 percent of young offenders sentenced to time in a juvenile detention center have later been required to return, often to the same facility, following the commission of new criminal offense(s) (Sander, Sharkey, Tanigawa, and Mauseth, 2010). Such an excessively high rate of recidivism does little to support the notion of rehabilitation through detention.
Though many factors have been blamed for the high rate of recidivist practices among delinquent youths, one influential element of this recurring criminality is the reinforcement of negative behaviors and attitudes within detention facilities themselves. Statistics concerning a seeming reduction in youth crime rates fail to consider this
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