FROM PUNISHMENT TO TREATMENT: THE SHIFT TOWARDS MEDICALIZED RESPONSES TO JUVENILE DELINQUENCY

Rosemary Onchi Daniel, Doris Lami Madugu

Abstract


This paper examines the transition from punitive to therapeutic approaches in handling juvenile delinquency. The primary objective is to analyze how medicalized interventions, such as mental health treatment and rehabilitation programs, are being integrated into juvenile justice systems. The study identifies the problem of high recidivism rates among juvenile offenders under traditional punitive measures and explores the effectiveness of medicalized responses in reducing these rates. The theoretical framework is grounded in labeling theory, which posits that labeling juveniles as criminals perpetuates a cycle of deviance, and medicalization theory, which suggests that treating deviance as a medical issue can lead to more effective interventions. The study employs a secondary data methodology, analyzing existing literature, case studies, and statistical data from various juvenile justice systems that have implemented medicalized responses. Analysis of the data reveals that medicalized interventions, including counseling, psychiatric treatment, and substance abuse programs, have shown promise in reducing recidivism and improving overall outcomes for juvenile offenders. However, challenges such as resource allocation, stigma, and the need for trained professionals remain significant barriers to widespread implementation. Findings indicate that jurisdictions adopting medicalized approaches experience lower recidivism rates and better reintegration outcomes for juveniles compared to those relying solely on punitive measures. The study concludes that while medicalized responses offer a viable alternative to traditional punishment, their success depends on addressing systemic barriersU and ensuring comprehensive support systems. Recommendations include increasing funding for mental health and rehabilitation programs within juvenile justice systems, training law enforcement and judicial personnel in medicalized approaches, and promoting public awareness to reduce stigma. Future research should focus on longitudinal studies to assess the long-term impacts of medicalized interventions on juvenile delinquency.      


Keywords


Juvenile delinquency, Historical shift, Punishment vs. Treatment, Medicalization approach, Rehabilitation

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