Are we just warehousing our juvenile offenders, until they can be released to commit more serious crimes that will send them to an adult correction facility? "The rate of US juvenile incarcerations is 300 per 100,000 – the highest in the world" (Intent to Reform: Alternatives to Detention and Incarceration 2008). This is a sad revelation. While in incarceration, do they receive additional education? Do they receive counseling for aggression or anger management? Are we trying to rehabilitate them to be released into the community as productive citizens of society? I am afraid that the answers to these questions would be a weak affirmative. There are programs in place, but with overcrowding and lack of trained staff, they are ineffective and lacking in results. Reform and change for the juvenile detention system is necessary and mandatory. Moving ahead to non-incarceration and rehabilitation is the key to improvement.
Throughout history, juvenile offenders were incarcerated with adult criminals. In 1899, Cook County in Illinois established the first juvenile court. It took a long 30 years to have a juvenile court in every state. The difference in the original juvenile courts was that the court could concentrate on the youth, and not on the offense. They could promote rehabilitation and not punishment. At this time, also, the United States fostered the idea of reform for juveniles. The first facility was the House of Refuge in New York, established in 1824 (History of Juvenile Justice System 2013). The early idea for these facilities was to be training schools, because many of the youthful offenders were beggars or stealing food to stay alive.
The juvenile court decisions on cases were usually warnings, probation, or confining the youth in a reform or training school. In the 1950's and 1960's, the public did not continue to support these decisions as effective treatments for the offenders.