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Probation often leads to juvenile hall for kids

Some juvenile justice reformers have been working toward finding a way to rehabilitate troubled youth without locking them up in juvenile hall. One method to combating the problem that has been used in California is to put minors directly into probation. While this may seem like a good alternative, probation can last until a juvenile reaches the age of 21.

Probation can lead to a host of other problems for youths. In an interview with Youth Radio, one 18-year-old told reporters that probation changed everything for him. He must follow approximately two dozen conditions, some of which are extremely subjective. For example, the court ordered that he had to attend classes on time, be of good behavior and perform well. He was ultimately moved to juvenile hall after he failed to "obey parents and guardians," the 15th condition.

Research has shown that juveniles who become involved in the correctional system often become further entangled. While adults who go on probation usually only have to avoid committing crimes, juveniles can be incarcerated for failing to follow conditions that have no association with their arrest.

When a juvenile is accused of being involved in a crime, the consequences can be severe even if the court gives the young person an alternative sentence. For example, if the juvenile is placed on probation, the conditions can make it quite difficult for him or her to finish school or become an active member of society. A criminal defense attorney may provide a defense that demonstrates that the youth was not responsible for committing the crime. A lawyer could also negotiate for an alternative sentence that would rehabilitate the juvenile without potentially setting them up for failure.

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