Perceptions of Law Enforcement Towards Juvenile Offenders [Clark Atlanta University]
In the most recent statistics, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJPD, 2017) recorded that in 2016 law enforcement agencies in the U.S made an estimated 856,130 arrests of persons under age 18. The topic of juvenile offenders has been a controversial debate for several years. Many argue that juveniles are not as fully developed mentally as adults and their crimes are generated from a youth’s mentality. This qualitative study explores the perceptions of juveniles by police officers. The purpose is to identify whether age, or the crime committed, and the outcome of that crime influences their perceptions. Additionally, exploring the police officers’ beliefs regarding the disciplinary actions for juveniles is an important consideration because it may influence their first contact treatment of the juvenile offender. The research questions that lead this study are: What are the perceptions of police officers about the disciplinary punishments for juvenile offenders? Purposeful sampling was used for the study. Participants were eligible if they were (1) worked as law enforcement for a minimum of 5 years, and (2) worked with juvenile offenders directly. A sample of 5 law enforcement officers, considered key informants, who worked with juvenile offenders, participated in this study. Data analyses was conducted with the Atlas Ti. Validation strategies such as member checking, rich thick descriptions, and reflexivity were used. Results of the overall themes indicated that most favor having early intervention and prevention programs for juveniles as well as rehabilitation instead of incarceration. Results should aid juvenile justice officials and use the perspectives inform interventions to prevent recidivism.
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