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The issue of juvenile criminal recidivism threatens to have a serious impact on modern society's safety and security. According to Carney and Buttell (2003), the rate of recidivism among adolescent offenders is growing. Recidivism interferes with the offenders' quality of life and their potential to lead fulfilling lives in the future. Furthermore, recidivism has an impact on the quality of life of children and adults in the neighboring communities.
Preventing juvenile recidivism necessitates a thorough understanding of the causes and problems that youth confront before, during, and after incarceration (Aos & Drake, 2013; Caneppele, et al., 2014). Policy makers have attempted to provide alternatives to combat the issue of recidivism with a fundamental aim of mitigating the underlying issues. Some authorities have suggested that trying young delinquents in adult courts, and as adults, will improve recidivism rates by exposing them to more severe adult sentences. These proposals have been criticized in a variety of areas and the effectiveness of these ideas has been questioned. Analyses of these proposals have produced a variety of opinions as to their effectiveness. Essential to understanding the potential effectiveness of such proposals requires an in-depth understanding of the core issues surrounding recidivism amongst juvenile offenders, and balance in their application (Abrams, 2006).
In the case of Dougherty, Tift, and Moultrie, Georgia, three primary problems with juvenile recidivism will be addressed. Firstly, current rehabilitation programs are failing, potentially resulting in an increased rate of recidivism. Secondly, it appears that the courts are failing to properly sentence juveniles in a manner which will reduce recidivism. Lastly, wrap-around programs assisting with the transition of juveniles post-incarceration are not being implemented.
There are three problems that I will discuss that exist in Dougherty, Tift, and Moultrie, Georgia, with juvenile recidivism. Current rehabilitation programs in all three areas are failing and because of such juvenile recidivism rate has increased. Secondly, failure of the courts to properly sentenced juveniles so that the punishment fit the crime reflects the recidivism rate. Finally, there is no wrap around follow-through programs that helps with transitions of juveniles from incarceration to functional citizens.
This dissertation intends to provide evidence of the need to urgently address rehabilitation, punishment, and juvenile recidivism within the corrections system. The qualitative research design hopes to highlight the insufficiency of current programs and official sanctions. The focus on the core causes of juvenile recidivism from the point of view of young male of offenders between 13 and 16 years of age in Dougherty, Tift, and Moultrie, Georgia. For a more rounded view of the problem statement, the judiciary, specifically sitting judges and probation officers, will also be interviewed on the same topics. This study will identify some of the effective and ineffective components of the Georgia Juvenile Point System. The study also intends to investigate as to whether the punishments and rehabilitation methods currently in use will shield young people from further destructive behavior.
What programs are participants aware of which provide rehabilitation to address recidivism?
Are participants aware of the components and themes underlying the current rehabilitation programs?
Do participants demonstrate awareness of how rehabilitation programs address the roots of the activities which lead to their presence in the program?
Why do Georgia juvenile offenders not seek follow up care after release? If care is sought, what time frames and type of program would encourage the participants to attend?
Do themes emerge in how programs can be improved?
What themes emerge in participant’s understanding of how psychodynamic theory affects their lives?
What are the views of judges and other judiciary officials on rehabilitation programs versus a focus on extensive incarceration?
RQ1- Qualitative: Can you describe the current rehabilitation programs in Dougherty, Tift, and Moultrie, Georgia? In what ways can this program be improved?
These two are added in the design section
2 RQ2- Qualitative: What programs Georgia have in existence for rehabilitation, and Recidivism? Why don’t Georgia offers juveniles follow-up care after being released and if they did what would be the max time for care? ) (What do you think?)
The above are more research questions than research questions. I will include them in the interview question session below in the design, except for RQ2 above, which can be incorporated into the research questions. Remember that research questions must be generalized questions resulting in a study outcome which, in a qualitative study, lead directly to the interview questions.
Research Design: Overview
The research primarily focuses on two primary questions: Knowledge of rehabilitation programs and awareness of the components of psychodynamic theory on life events in layman’s terms. This research will focus on both juvenile offenders and judiciary officers such as court sitting judges and probationary officers. The research design is qualitative in nature to garner as much useful information as possible to present a more complete view of the problem. To thoroughly answer the research questions, a thematic analytic qualitative design will be utilized. In this case, the thematic design represents an exploratory/investigative study intended to provide valuable information on recidivism amongst juvenile offenders in this case. Since many detention and rehabilitation programs appear ineffective, it is essential to understand the reasons behind their inefficiency. Socio-politically, multiple reasons have been investigated, however few studies have focused on the opinions and personal responses of the offenders themselves. This research design will be utilized to collect effective information in this regard.
Data collection will take place via semi-structured interviews with respondents (juvenile offenders within rehabilitation programs). Permissions will be sought from the appropriate gatekeepers and ethical committees. Confidentiality between the researcher and the participants will be paramount with all information being safeguarded. With permission, interviews will be transcribed and further analyzed.
Semi-structured interview questions. The semi-structured interview will focus on the opinions of the participants at the facility and area in question. The focus will be on the amount of knowledge of the type, purpose and usefulness of the system, the underlying reasons behind the type of system being used and the ways in which the system could be improved. Additionally, an explanation of psychoanalysis will be provided and the awareness of these components and the impact on the individual’s life will be discussed from the perspectives of both the offender and the judge or probationary officer.
The interview questions to juvenile offenders are:
Can you describe the current rehabilitation programs?
In what way does the rehabilitation program address the underlying reason bringing you here?
How can the program be improved upon?
Do you understand the relevant components of psychodynamic theory? [provide explanation]
How do you think the components of psychodynamic theory impact your life and time here?
The interview questions to judiciary and probationary officials are:
Can you describe the current rehabilitation programs?
In what way do you think rehabilitation, as opposed to extensive incarceration alone, can address underlying reasons for juvenile offending?
How can any existing rehabilitation programs be improved upon?
What personal and personality components do you think impact recidivism amongst juvenile offenders in this area?
The data will be analyzed following transcription. Atlas TI, a qualitative analysis program, will be implemented to consider the data more closely. A basic thematic analysis will be conducted. This will involve the transcribing and reading of participant responses and identifying repeated themes in the content, tone and associations communicated. The themes expressed will be summated and investigated further alongside basic literature for full understanding. Where discrepancies between the themes and the literature occur, these will be further explored perhaps through second interviews or follow up questions.
Strengths and Limitations of the thematic analysis research design
The thematic analysis design rests on accurate and forthcoming interviews with participants. However, this is subject to several sources of bias. Firstly, participants may not be fully open about their previous transgressions or current situation. This result from concerns about victimization, their welfare, their reputation or their future endeavors. Should participants provide less than full information, the themes resulting from the design may not be true to the problem statement being investigated. Secondly, by dint of interviewing individuals, the nature of the relationship between the researcher and the participant may change. Participants may feel threatened, possessive or angry at the prospect of being interviewed. This applies to both juvenile and offenders and the judiciary although they represent different underlying dynamics. Although the interviews are entirely voluntary, subliminal pressure may be present in some cases as is commonly found in this type of study. Should the researcher fail to develop a sufficient rapport and relationship with the participants being interviewed, they may be resistant to the process or fear repercussions. This is likely to introduce bias to the results and reduce the validity (correctness) of the findings.
The researcher, as an individual, will analyze the results thereby introducing an additional source of bias. Although researchers intend to remain clear headed regarding their findings, subconscious desires, foci and opinions may impact the interpretation of interview questions leading to less than desirable levels of validity and reliability. To mitigate this, the research will utilize two separate “coders” who will classify the themes within the research independently and then under discussion.
Since the study is conducted in a specific locale and the sample will be small, these results (like many qualitative studies) cannot be generalized further. However, this does not mean the results will not be reliable. A standardized format should allow genuine responses by using structured and semi-structured interview questions along with well-prepared interviewers. There is much debate within qualitative research as the reliability of any form of data collection and analysis. In this case, it seems more pertinent to focus on obtaining as much information as possible based on the research design questions rather than focusing on the intention to repeatedly gain the same results as this task would be better suited to larger scale follow up studies.
A strong point for this type of design is the analysis of new material “from scratch”. Since few studies have focused on this type of question in this area, additional information is likely to emerge. Thematic analysis allows for the breaking down of extensive responses and response styles into manageable, researchable themes which may be extrapolated and applied in other research contexts.
Research Design and Rationale
The rationale behind the research design is seated in the need for information which is genuine but still quantifiable in some way to facilitate communication of the findings. Although extensive unstructured interviews are useful at times, a clear focus and structure can also assist in avoiding common interviewing problems such as straying off topic, avoiding questions or answering with information only partially related to the original question. This design was chosen to ensure that the maximum information was gained with the least inconvenience to participants and the promotion of the most participant-benefitting experience as possible. The data analysis component represents a classical qualitative technique known to produce useful an understandable information. This is essential given that other work in this area (and related areas) has generally focused on statistical analyses of recidivism rates, overpopulating, type of crime and so forth. For the results to fit in with the current literature and be of relevance to policy makers, a clear, simple and quantifiable analysis is required.
How the problem statement will be answered by this research design
The problem statement may be summarized as the issue of tackling recidivism through understanding of the components versus harsher punishment. This issue has not yet been subject to experimental design and is currently largely theoretical. The research design proposed here will address this problem in several ways. The issue of youth challenges before, during and after detention for juvenile offences should be addressed from a practical exploration of the youth experience rather than a statistical noting of the crimes committed. However, the answers provided still need to be in a format which is of use to the policy makers involved. As a result, qualitative thematic analysis will yield the most appropriate data. Semi-structured interviews will allow youth to express their challenges whilst still focusing on sufficiently specific information to be of use to the researcher.
How the purpose statement will be answered within this research design
Summarized, the purpose statement is to obtain information on the reasons for recidivism within a specific juvenile detention system whilst analyzing the system’s efficacy. The proposed qualitative interview and thematic design will provide in-depth information in a summarized format. The semi-structured interviews will provide “real-world” information from the perspective of the participants whilst the method of analysis will give a summarized indication of the relevant issues.
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