The short answer is no, the system is making a difference but it’s not the outcome that anyone wants to have. There are too many negative side-effects that come along with placement in a secure detention facility. There are alternatives that would be far less expensive and could have a better chance of correcting misbehavior and reduce recidivism at the same time.
One commonly recognized problem is the admittance process, which is very slow and often too late to be effective. The time between when a juvenile is caught doing something wrong and the time when the juvenile is brought to court is sometimes six months or more. All children grow a lot in six months, some learn from their first mistake and some don’t. The ones that learn from their mistake still sometimes end up going to detention at which point is not necessarily needed. Others may go on to do worse stuff before getting the attention they need within the juvenile justice system. Some counties in Minnesota are using a program called J.O.L.T., Juvenile Offenders seen in Less Time, which expedites the process of selected juvenile cases (Lancaster & Heilman, 2001). This program is an attempt to make the system better but more could still be