U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Never Too Late: Public Optimism About Juvenile Rehabilitation

NCJ Number
Punishment and Society Volume: 12 Issue: 2 Dated: April 2010 Pages: 187-207
Alex R. Piquero; Francis T. Cullen; James D. Unnever; Nicole L. Piquero; Jill A. Gordon
Date Published
April 2010
21 pages
This study explored whether optimism about juvenile rehabilitation is a near universal, shared belief, or whether there exist important variations across sociodemographic groups about whether juveniles can be rehabilitated (and if so at what age).
Policy decisions with respect to juvenile offenders oscillate between rehabilitation and punishment, and the effectiveness of these two approaches, including which one for which type of offender, has yet to be realized. Less studied is the extent to which the public favors one approach or the other generally, and whether the public believes that there is an age at which it may be too late to help a juvenile offender turn away from a life of crime. Studying this issue is important because public attitudes have the potential to shape policy. In the domain of juvenile justice, the challenge is whether public opinion will breed unfettered punitiveness or, as the authors anticipate, will serve as an impetus for a richer and more progressive response to juvenile offenders. Using data from a random sample of Pennsylvania residents, Study results point not toward a division over the beliefs about 'saving children,' but instead demonstrate a consensus that optimism about juvenile rehabilitation is not something citizens argue over. Implications for public policies regarding juvenile offenders are addressed. Tables, notes, and references (Published Abstract)