Types & Benefits of Juvenile Correction Alternatives

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  • 0:01 Background
  • 1:15 Community-Based…
  • 3:19 Out-of-the-Community…
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jennifer Williams

Jennifer has taught various courses in U.S. Government, Criminal Law, Business, Public Administration and Ethics and has an MPA and a JD.

In this lesson, we will learn about the types and benefits of juvenile correction alternatives. We will learn what these alternatives are and what the benefits are to options other than incarceration.


After a juvenile is adjudicated, or found to have violated a law of a state, the court will move to disposition. Whereas when an adult is found guilty after a verdict, he or she is sentenced, this is very different in the juvenile system. In the juvenile system, a case is disposed of, and the purpose of that disposition is not to punish a juvenile who has been adjudicated of the offense - the point is to find a good avenue to rehabilitate him or her.

The theory of the juvenile court is always to rehabilitate juvenile offenders, not punish them. The doctrine of parens patriae, meaning 'parent of the country,' is the guiding light to allow the state to serve as the guardian of juveniles in dealing with their physical, behavioral, or mental health issues. Additionally, the courts follow the 'best interests of the child' in determining what would help the juvenile become a productive member of society. In some cases, this means removing the juvenile from the home and placing him in an institution in order to rehabilitate him in the most effective way possible. We will discuss these alternatives in this lesson.

Community-Based Correctional Alternatives

The benefit of a juvenile remaining in the community during his time of rehabilitation is that he can remain with his family, continue going to his school, and progress with what may be a wider variety of rehabilitative options than may be available in a juvenile prison.

One of the frequently used methods of community-based corrections is probation. On probation, the juvenile is supervised by an officer of the court while rehabilitating out in the community. On probation, the juvenile is held to strict rules that are considered conditions of his probation. In some cases, the juvenile may be subject to drug and alcohol testing and may have to attend weekly treatment. The juvenile will be required to attend school on a regular basis and maintain his grades. Additionally, the probation officer will supervise other conditions that the judge may have imposed as part of the disposition - such as community service.

Community service is a correctional alternative for juveniles in which the juvenile pays back his debt to society by volunteering for a non-profit organization or another person. During community service, the juvenile may be ordered to pick up trash along a highway, serve at a soup kitchen, or volunteer to mentor younger children. In most cases, the judge will order a certain amount of hours to be completed, and the juvenile will have the hours signed off on by the organization.

Another community-based correctional alternative is therapy. The types of therapy vary, but all serve the purpose of affecting change in the juvenile with the use of counseling techniques. The judge typically orders therapy when he or she believes that a past event or behavioral issue is to blame for the juvenile's offense. This therapy may include sex abuse therapy, drug and alcohol counseling, or family counseling. In most cases, the therapist will then issue a regular report on the juvenile's progress to the court.

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