How did you end up in jail? The root of your criminal history?
The root, the theory goes, is that you were raised in a bad home.
It’s an argument that has been used in the past to exonerate people who were abused or neglected as children, and to explain why people are now more likely to commit crimes in adulthood.
But it’s not a particularly persuasive argument.
According to the National Center for Juvenile Justice, just 0.4% of children under the age of 18 have been arrested or convicted of any violent crime.
That’s a huge drop from the 6% of youths who were arrested for assault, robbery or murder in the 1980s.
A study by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, found that of 1,500 young men in their late teens or early 20s, just 5% were arrested or charged with a violent crime, even though they committed a significant amount of violent crime in their teens.
And according to a report released last month by the American Civil Liberties Union, more than 80% of juveniles in California who are charged with violent crimes are released before they reach their 18th birthday.
A recent study from the University at Buffalo, meanwhile, found more than 50% of California juvenile offenders have been convicted of no violent crimes, and more than 60% of the offenders released after serving their sentences have committed violent crimes.
But those numbers are far from the majority, and criminologists say there’s no evidence to suggest that children who are arrested for nonviolent crimes end up violent.
And a 2010 study from Harvard Law School found that juveniles who were in a foster home or an institution before their 18teenth birthday were more likely than those who were not in foster care or institutions to be charged with other crimes.
The reason why people end up behind bars is largely due to the way society treats those who are poor, incarcerated or in juvenile detention, according to Dr. Jeffrey Katz, a criminologist at Columbia University who studies the criminal justice system.
“We’ve had a lot of social scientists that say, ‘Oh, the criminal-justice system is a mess,’ ” Katz said.
“And we’ve seen that over and over again.
And if you don’t have an option, they’re going to go to jail.” “
When you have a system that is completely broken, you’re not going to be able to get people out.
And if you don’t have an option, they’re going to go to jail.”
And that makes it hard to rehabilitate children who’ve been incarcerated, Katz said, since those who end up on the street are likely to have a criminal record.
“Kids who have no opportunity to become involved in the criminal life in the first place, they tend to be really hard to reintegrate,” he said.
The same can be said for those who have been released on their own.
“It’s not that kids are good or bad,” said Marc Mauer, a criminal-victim defense attorney who has worked in the U.S. and abroad.
“They are not.”
But Mauer noted that many of the children he represents do not end up returning to the streets.
“The vast majority of them, most of them do not go back to crime.
They get into a normal life, get a job, go to college and then get married, have kids and then they are able to reenter society,” Mauer said.
And he said that those who do are often able to find jobs or better jobs as adults.
“If you go back and you see someone that has a criminal history, you have to look at it, you cannot take the kid out,” he added.
But when you’re released, many of those kids are likely going to have some sort of other problems, Katz noted.
“Most people do not see a kid who’s going to commit a crime in the years and years ahead,” he explained.
“There is no excuse.
You’ve just got to face it and try to live your life as a responsible adult.
You can’t be irresponsible, you’ve just gotta be responsible.”
The problem with that is that, even if someone is able to pay for their own criminal-history treatment, Katz says, the odds of getting a conviction in the future are small.
“I don’t think that you can predict a child’s future, but if you’re a child, you need to think about what you can do to change the outcome of your life,” he continued.
“A lot of the people who are being released right now are not going back into the streets, they don’t even want to go back into society.”
More: The roots of the criminal ‘justice’ system, from the crack cocaine era to the current criminal justice ‘epidemic’