Juvenile Detention the Paul T. Essay

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Most boys stay fourteen days or less. Some are held while they are waiting for a bed in a treatment center. Some boys are bailed out by their parents and in other cases they are released by the judge. It depends on several factors, including the age of the offender, the level of crime, and whether it is a first or repeat offense. Eighty percent of cases do not go to trial; attorneys are usually able to work out a plea deal.

Offenses range from relatively minor, such as shoplifting, to felony offences such as home invasion, rape and even murder. Every youth is screened before coming to the unit. Low-level offenders who are non-violent, who are not sex offenders, who are not fire-setters, and not considered a flight risk are placed in foster homes. The boys can refuse to go to a foster home and come to the detention facility instead. Placement in a foster home is part of the Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiative (JDAI), designed to keep low-level offenders out of situations where they will be housed, and presumably influenced by, more serious offenders.
The atmosphere is strict and structured but not oppressive. All the boys wear khaki pants with white t-shirts, maroon sweatshirts, socks, and flip-flops. They can change into sneakers when they go into the yard for exercise and play. The boys are only locked in their rooms from lights out at 9:30 P.M. until 7 a.m. The next morning (unless there is a safety issue). The boys attend school every day, meet with a licensed clinical social worker individually and in group sessions, and have time to relax and socialize in a very controlled environment. They are allowed to have visitors for an hour each day on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday; family visits are strongly encouraged.

Massachusetts is considered one of the most progressive states in its treatment of youthful offenders. A visit to the Leahy Center reveals why this is the case. Offenders are well-treated in a highly structured environment. They have many opportunities to process what they have done and reflect on how they can change their lives and move forward in a positive direction after leaving the facility......

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