Rehabilitation is a process that attempts to restore a troubled person to one who is an asset to society. In the case of juvenile rehabilitation, such a system is designed specifically for minors who have committed crimes or who are displaying behaviors that suggest troubled futures. It can include boot camps, after-school programs, and incarceration in detention facilities. Reasons for forcing children into these programs include truancy, involvement with drugs, and assault.
In many cases, juvenile rehabilitation is not designed to punish. Although containing children in facilities may seem like punishment, it should be remembered that both mental and substance rehabilitation often involve people staying in facilities. Juvenile rehabilitation methods can greatly vary. Many methods are devised more to deter future delinquency and provide strong guidance than to serve as outright punishment.
Non-violent youth may, for example, be housed in group homes. Those youth who have committed serious or violent crimes may be sent to youth prisons. There are also boot camps which use military-style training techniques to help rehabilitate youth. Those children who are more menacing than criminal may be enrolled in after-school programs that are held in detention facilities.
The milder forms of rehabilitation, such as group homes and after-school programs, generally are not too crowded. They also tend to have a higher staff-to-child ratio than other methods. Children are often given more attention and there are likely to be a wider range of programs in place.
Juvenile rehab usually involves more than locking children up and disciplining them. The children are often involved in skill-building programs. They may be given an opportunity to earn educational diplomas. Also, they often receive personalized and intensive counseling.
It is believed that the size and type of juvenile rehabilitation has an impact on recidivism. Minors who have gone through boot-camp-style programs, for example, are believed to be less likely to commit crimes in the future. It is also believed that putting minors who commit lower-scale offenses, such as truancy, with those who have committed harsh crimes, such as rape, can have detrimental effects. In many cases, great efforts are made to separate various classes of offenders.
The amount of time that a minor is involved in a juvenile rehabilitation program can vary. Some minors are there for short periods such as several weeks or months. Others may be required to stay in a juvenile facility for years until they become legal adults. There are cases when juvenile rehab facilities serve as a first stage. In these instances, the minors will be transferred to adult facilities at a later date.