Author : Utkarsh Sharma, Student at United World School of Law, Gandhinagar
JUVENILE RECIDIVISM- INDIA STAND BY ITS REFORMATIVE APPROACH
The change is always meant for betterment, but is it same with the human development? The developed environments have corrupted the human behaviour. From being social and rational being we have placed ourselves in the world of crime. The sadist nature is what humans have preached by passing time and it is getting worst with every changing day.
Rehabilitation and reformation is what society has practiced but in the era of recidivism how far these practices will be praised. The negativity in society, abusive human nature, unemployment, excessive drugs consumption; unsatisfied wants are all involved in degrading human thoughts.
The various offenders that existed and exist in our society were involved in crime from their juvenility till today. The question here is what makes these juveniles a recidivist. Does the increased recidivism have any solution? How to reform the juveniles involved in crime and prevent them from being recidivist?
The report by Crime and Justice Institute in Boston defines Juvenile Recidivism into three categories:
- The juveniles adjudicated for new offences while in custody i.e. re-adjudication;
- The community supervision of the juveniles having subsequent arrest or conviction while under supervision;
- The juvenile released from the juvenile court jurisdiction either from custody or community supervision and then gets subsequent arrest or convicted or adjudicated.
Recidivism, being one of the fundamental concepts in criminal justice, becomes relevant in understanding the functions of the criminal justice system related to incapacitation, deterrence, and rehabilitation. Recidivism is the behavioural aspect of a criminal that verifies once a criminal is always a criminal. Though the steps are taken to rehabilitate and re-socialise the juveniles in order to further prevent them from being delinquent. These juveniles are given proper treatment in the juvenile jail but the foreign reports shows that rarely they change their tendencies.
The concept helps in determining the needs for the developments of agencies to keep a strict control over the delinquents and also on the legislators to make appropriate laws.There are agencies set up in the countries to keep a rate record of juvenile recidivism but in India though the National Crime Records Bureau, which is the nodal agency under the Ministry of Home Affairs, collects data on crime and recidivism but dawdle to keep record on juvenile recidivists.However, there are various entitlements provided to juvenile under Juvenile Justice Act in India even to those who have committed serious offence. The objects is to provide for proper care, protection and treatment for the positive development of the juvenile
India is not as developed as America in Juvenile Justice System even today. Early in 1850 India passed various laws that protected these juveniles and focused on apprenticeship program. There were several activities developed so that these juvenile delinquents can re-establish themselves and live with dignity in the society. In case if any juvenile had committed non-violent and non-serious crime, they were trained under a professional (like a tailor, blacksmith, farmer, etc.) so that they can rehabilitate themselves. The government believed that if such juveniles are given chance to work they can live better life, instead of punishing and confining them.
After independence a uniform juvenile courts were established by The Children Act, 1960. The Act was redesigned in the year 2000 as Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act. It got amended in 2006 and re-introduced the idea of vocational programs and apprenticeships. There was amendment made in the year 2015which allowed that juveniles of 16 to 18 year-old to be tried as an adults, if they commits a serious offence.
FACTORS CAUSING RECIDIVISM
The competitive natures of the society have cause the immense change in a development of a child. Every child faces the unwanted stress which is unnecessarily created by the society. If analysis is done why the juveniles commits crime, the first and foremost thing comes into board is peer pressure, the root cause of every situational behaviour that child inculcates from the surrounding. There are factors involved in juvenile delinquency such as excessive aggression, mental health, substance abuse, educational failure, failed parenting or criminal background. There are socio economic factors too which are involved such as financial status and age of the offender.
Mostly, children from poor family or from child welfare centre are involved in crimes. They are termed as “crossover youth” especially children who went through maltreatment and engaged in delinquency. They are more likely to return to the correction centres. Once the juvenile gets indulge in the crime, the chances of him not being recidivist is very less. Moreover, the reports state that the male juvenile are much more likely to indulge in the recidivism than female.
The factors behind these are backed by the mental condition of the child. Most probably these children are highly neglected and have suffered brutality themselves which make them a delinquent. Moreover, the reality of correction homes is also questionable. There are very less states which are able to maintain their prisons and prisoners. The welfare homes and correction centres are completely occupied by the delinquent involved in serious crimes. The newcomers in the centres are likely to join the gangs of these delinquent to prepare a big gang.
Adolescence Instability: – Adolescence is the crucial stage of growth. The person is completely fickle in his thoughts. The biological, psychological and sociological changes overpower the mature thinking. At this stage juveniles are more likely to indulge in criminal activities. Their demand for freedom and intolerance towards interference make them uncontrollable and they are more likely indulged in immoral activities.
There are various instances that can be quoted, where a tenth standard child murdered his parents for interfering in his life. Child stealing money from home to roister, indulging in alchol and drugs consumption.
Disintegration of Family System: –Proper parenting is always the need for an hour. It is said child’s behaviour depicts the family values. Juvenile’s life is more likely to get effected if he sees domestic violence at his home, or due to divorced parents, or failed parenting- lack of love affection and attention. The disintegration of family effects the juvenile’s mindset and is more likely to indulge in the delinquency.
Economic Condition and Poverty: – The child with poor economic condition and poverty has high risk of been delinquent. To satisfy their hunger and poverty the child gets involved in immoral activities. The children born in the slum areas make up a gang and perform various offences. Though there are various NGO’s which have taken initiatives to educate these children and develop their skill. But in few cases the child’s parents do not allow their children to join these organisation, they make them work at very early age to overcome their poverty.
Migration and Sex Indulgence: –The deserted and destitute juveniles’ are migrated to slums. They are forced to perform anti – social elements. The child is easy source for these criminal because even if they are caught they cannot be harmed by the police and they carry minimal information about these criminals. Prostitution, smuggling of drugs or narcotics these areas have maximum juvenile workers and child abuse cases.
Substance Abuse: –The most common and immoral activity is that these delinquent gets involved in the act of substance abuse. Substance abuse is the easiest way that a person adapts to get rid of their problems. The increase in substance abuse case is no hidden phenomena from general people. Schools and colleges is a pivot of substance abuse. These juveniles are even involved in the sale of drugs as they are out of the radar of the agencies.
Mental Health: – The present situation is that almost every child suffers from depression or any other mental problem. The reason is to survive in the competitive world and if a child cannot survive he take serious steps of committing suicide or indulge in delinquency. The society has to be blamed completely. The amount of comparison, peer pressure that every child bare effect his mindset and it creates the factors such as inferiority complex, jealousy and in order to prove himself he might take severe steps.
These factors play major part in destructing a child’s attitude and making a negative impact on his behaviour and mind. The senses of understanding cannot be accepted from these juveniles. They get carried away by getting influenced from these factors and therefore get involved in the delinquencies.
PROVISIONS MADE FOR JUVENILE DELINQUENT
There are some provisions for the welfare of the student mentioned in the constitution of India under fundamental rights and directive principles of state policy. These provisions protect the rights of the juveniles.
- Article 15(3) gives special power to the state to make any law for the upliftment and betterment of children.
- Article 21 of the constitution provides for free and compulsory education for all the children under age group of 6 to 14 years.
- Article 24 prevent children under age of fourteen to work in hazardous work place.
- Article 39 protect children from human trafficking and forced labour system.
- Article 39(e) protect children from any sort of abuse by adults.
- Article 47 ensures good nutrition and proper standard of living to all children.
These rights are also protected under the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015. The Act focuses on the rehabilitation, reformation and re-settlement of these juvenile delinquents. These necessary steps have been taken to rehabilitate these delinquents so that they can earn their living and live a normal life in the society. The punishments in case of offences committed by the juveniles are adjudicated by taking various factors into account such as age, family background, and situation of the child. The court is not harsh towards these juvenile because they believe there is room for improvement if a person is given chance.
Apart from various measures taken by the government there is increase in juvenile delinquency and once a juvenile gets involved in criminal activities is not easy to make him stable again. The increase in the number of juvenile delinquent and the recidivist have been an issue of debate among the scholars and the steps and measures taken to protect them have shown not much effect in reducing the recidivism.
Section 2(13) of the Juvenile Justice Act states that child in conflict with law shall not be tried as an adult rather they are sent to children care centers or Rehabilitation centers until they attain the age of 21. Once they attain 21 years of age they can be sent to prisons. The Act provides, the maximum punishment of three years to juvenile offenders and the same punishment is valid for heinous crime aswell. The Indian system believes in the reformation of juveniles and therefore they are send to correction homes, rehabilitation Centers. They are also made parts of skill development programs which are organised by the NGO’s and also the juvenile schools so that they can complete their elementary education.
The leniency towards these juveniles in the law is because most of these children are sufferers and they have been either forced to get involve in crime or they were in such mental position to not able to differentiate. It is observed that most of the juvenile delinquents are from poor family background or they are either product of child abuse. It wrong on our part to hate them or severely punish them. The humans inculcate what they have seen since birth or the surrounding and environment they are born in. the policy of reformation is slow and very experimental but these juveniles must be given chance for improvement though the rate for recidivism is increasing according to the records but it is also because of the non-acceptability attitude of the society and their judgemental behaviour.
 Utkarsh Sharma, United World School of Law, Gandhinagar
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