Criminalizing Disturbed Young Offenders

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Allan Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D. was in private practice for more than thirty years. He is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the states ...Read More

Last week the New York Times ran an interesting editorial about young adolescents who are emotionally disturbed and who commit minor crimes. Most of these young people are sent to Juvenile Detention Centers as a result of their crimes. Once there these young people undergo very careful training in how to become full fledged criminals who then go on to commit crimes that are much worse. At least in New York City, according to the editorial, these young offenders are now being referred to community based programs where they receive mental health services. The main point is that these young offenders are extremely low risk to the community and have committed minor crimes.

It is difficult to disagree with the times assessment that treatment is far better for these emotionally troubled young people than detention centers where they are socialized into the world of crime.


This issue is closely related to an essay that will soon be posted on Mental Help Net about the ways in which adult mentally ill people find their way into jails and prisons rather than hospitals and treatment facilities.

It just seems so logical and realistic to treat the mentally ill of all ages for their emotional problems and leave the jails and prisons for the real criminals. Am I missing something?

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