Community alternatives to incarceration

Christopher R. Thomas

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Introduction The central reason behind the creation of the juvenile justice system at the beginning of the twentieth century was the belief, that in contrast to adult offenders, delinquents were amenable to change in their antisocial behaviors. Therefore, the juvenile courts sought to capitalize on this opportunity and provide rehabilitation, not solely punishment. The rate of recidivism among young offenders certainly supports the notion of developing programs aimed at reforming delinquents (Snyder, 1988). The reduction in youth crime and its personal and economic costs to the individual and communities easily justify the expense of intervention (Schoenwald et al., 1996). In addition, it has been estimated that each delinquent that continues onto an adult criminal career costs society $1.3-1.5 million (Cohen, 1998). The founding principle of the opportunity for rehabilitation has been questioned from the start as to whether effective interventions truly exist with juvenile delinquents. Early intervention efforts were based on an individualized approach to meeting the needs of the particular youth before the court. While some intervention models were based on theoretical speculations regarding the causes of delinquency, few were derived from direct research on the causes and correlates of antisocial behavior in youth. Most reflected an application of general models of psychopathology and treatment to the special case of delinquency, such as Aichhorn’s psychoanalytic approach (Aichhorn, 1935). A series of research reviews in the late 1970s supported the popular belief that “nothing works” with delinquents (Lipton et al., 1975; Greenberg, 1977; Romig, 1978; Sechrest et al., 1979).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Mental Health Needs of Young Offenders
Subtitle of host publicationForging Paths Toward Reintegration and Rehabilitation
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9780511543913
ISBN (Print)9780521612906
StatePublished - Jan 1 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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