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Juvenile Justice Process and Corrections
One of the mostly used tools in risk assessment is Missouri Risk Assessment tool. The tool is used in both informal and formal perspectives. It determines the risks that an individual poses to the current society during prosecution. It also applies to determine risks accompanying the release an individual from custody or detention to the society. The Missouri Assessment tool is important in assessing the scales of juvenile offenders. Its application is different since they refer to different cases. The assessment classifies the scales as being at high, moderate, or low risk. The scale also emphasizes on different social factors of the offender both the social and psychological perspectives.
The Missouri Risk assessment has ten risk factors. The first and the second factors are the age of the first referral and the age of prior referrals respectively. In these cases, the assessment tries to determine the mental capabilities and the social expectations of an individual at different ages. The age of an individual is the main determinant of the moral justification of one’s actions. Coleen is 15 years old which means that she has not yet attained majority age. This assessment also considers peer relationships, family, and general behavior. It also considers history of abuse, neglect, home placement, substance abuse, and parental incarceration.
A little information is available in the case study about Colleen’s relationships. She has experienced both outright abuse and neglect. There is no proof of any existing friends from the case. She does not have pro-social ties and the only person with full responsibility for her is the aunt. From the study, it is evident that she interacts with random people since she runs away from home. Her social history is complicated considering her age. She has a criminal history since she admits to running away from her aunt. From the assessment tool, her score on both criminal history and social history risk is 7 and 17 respectively. Her level of risk from the combination of social and criminal history is 9. She does not have any police records according to the information in the study. She does not also have any record of lying since she has admitted her past crime, which is running away from home.
In committing the crime, the girl admits that she poured pesticide on her neighbor. She goes ahead to admit that she was trespassing. Her explanation that she was trying to put out the fire is not adequate since the study does not show the actual distance between Colleen, her neighbor, and the burning scarecrow. However, her assessment indicates that she has a high risk factor as a measure of social and criminal history. Therefore, she has the motive to commit the crime. The earlier threats that the neighbor gave also add to her motive of committing the crime. The simple reason of putting out the fire on other’s property with full knowledge of the cause of the fire is a vague justification (Baldry, 2013).
First, the case study should provide the age of Colleen’s neighbor. This would provide a better explanation of Colleen’s actions and her response to the neighbor’s actions. The study does not show whether the neighbor is a teenager or an adult in which case it would assist in showing why the girl acted as she did. The age would also help in determining the reasons why the neighbor threatened Colleen by burning the scarecrow in order to warn her. Second, the study does not explain on the criminal and social history of the neighbor. It should show on what social circumstances the neighbor was living and would affect Colleen’s motive and behavior. The study should also give past police records considering her neighbor’s behavior. This would also assist in determining the neighbor’s relationship with Colleen. It would also assist in explaining what risks the neighbor poses to Colleen which may have led to the dog’s bite (Heilbrun, Goldstein & Redding, 2005).
The study should also present enough information about the response to the peers of both referrals on past actions. This would determine the social relationship of both Colleen and her neighbor to the actions which happened. It should also present exhaustively the information from the families of both individuals other than relying on the information from the individuals themselves. This additional information will be important to provide correct risk assessment.
Each state has specific risk assessment for juvenile offenders. The assessments assist in deciding the appropriate punishments. From the above assessment, several recommendations can be provided on how to handle Colleen’s case. The above assessment also assists in determining the appropriate steps that the juvenile court should take to assist her. It outlines her social and psychological difficulties at her age. However, her past problems should not be a justification of a crime and make the society feel sorry for her. Therefore, she ought to have a punishment for involuntary manslaughter, but a lighter one than for a juvenile with normal social circumstances. Her evaluation should also include a rehabilitation process to assist in regaining her mental consciousness.
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