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The local police departments of any community across the United States are under the increasing pressure from the citizens, and even their own internal divisions. The reason for this is to intimidate or discourage the officers from arresting teenagers and official processing of the paperwork for juvenile detention. Looking for the positive solutions, officers have become dependent on the security cameras in order to provide further discretion for the community. Through the security tapes and private department records, the police can successfully perform their duties providing the space at the same time. Officers usually face dilemmas when criminal situations are not clear as, for instance, the situations in which crimes are not based on a solid evidence.
An example of the problematic situation would be a complaint against a teenager showing “an inappropriate conduct.” In such a case, it would be tough to define the authenticity of the delinquency that took place as it depends on the situation, evidence and any potential witness. The police discretion is imperative for the overall juvenile justice process as the officers are able to control the early stages of the criminal behavior using their power to send someone to jail as well as give them the alternative forms of punishment. During these phases, officers must apply keen senses of justice to differentiate a real crime from a simple misbehavior. However, there is an extensive criticism directed at the police for abusing of their discretionary powers, and being prejudiced against the race, religion, gender and social status. For instance, the teenage girls have less chances to be arrested and sent to juvenile court rather than boys. It is, indeed, very difficult to make such an accusation but there are proof cases where the race factor was dominant since the black boys were preferable to get a punishment in the past.
Most of the time, instead of juvenile, detention police officers have power to refer teenagers to other corrective programs. One of the most effective diversion programs is the Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. The national group has more than 70,000 young people and adults working together on preventing a teenage crime and social dilemmas. Furthermore, the main target of the organization is to provide the youths from six to eighteen years who live in a single parent family with a support they may need. Not surprisingly, people exactly of this age and of such a family group are the majority of the youngsters withing the walls of the juvenile detention centers.
‘Big brothers’ or ‘big sisters’ are trained mentors who regularly meet their ‘littles’, and develop trust relationships. The main focus of the organization is to provide the young and troubled children and teenagers with someone to share their emotions with. Moreover,, they are encouraged to find a positive way to spend their free time, instead of resorting to crime or depression. The ‘bigs’ and ‘littles’ are carefully coupled together after a thorough case management process. What is more, the program is thus beneficial for the mentors who are eager to volunteer and give back to the community.
According to a study done at Colorado University, the youths involved in the BBBSA program were 46% less likely to do drugs rather than controlled ones, 27% less eager to start alcohol abuse, and 25% less likely to physically harm anyone. Moreover, these teenagers have higher chances to be distinguished academically and socially as they have increased a quality of the relationships with their family members such as grandparents and siblings, and have gained the ability to make new friends outside the familiar high school environment. Having viewed this statistics, I believe, that the BBBSA and similar programs should be used instead of typical community service tasks or sending to juvenile, without giving youngsters the chance to interact with the world around them or mature into the real life.