They need a second chance because many have not received even a first chance. Additionally, rehabilitation is by far the best option for them because of the way they would almost certainly be exploited and turned into hardened criminals if sent to prison. This paper will provide further background to the issue of rehabilitating juvenile offenders, and strongly argue that it is the right approach.
The justice system fulfills an important symbolic function by establishing standards of conduct. It formally defines right and wrong for citizens and frees them from the responsibility of taking vengeance, thus preventing the escalation of feuds within communities. The system protects the rights of free citizens by honoring the principle that individual freedom should not be denied without good reason. Rehabilitation has as its objective the return of offenders to the community as cured and viable members of society. The rehabilitation efforts of the 1980s and 1990s were to a large extent unsuccessful. No program appeared to be any more effective in changing criminals than any other program, so a sizable portion of the people released from prison continued to return (Murphy 49). This led many to conclude that the best, and possibly only, alternative was simply to remove offenders from the community, precluding any further vexation and exploitation by them. Since criminals are thought to be more likely to commit crimes than those never convicted of a criminal act, it follows that some benefits will be derived from incarcerating convicted criminals. Incapacitation has the greatest potential as a method of crime control if it is a few hardened criminals who commit most crimes. If they can be identified, convicted, and incarcerated for long periods, a significant reduction in crime would be realized. Most advocates of punitive reform have this perspective on the criminal population. Blame for the majority