Juvenile Sex Offenders

Kids that do things wrong, especially sex related stuff, must be kicked hard forever, right?  Well, let us consider all aspects of how to handle juvenile sex offenders.  There are legal and social science aspects to the answer.  The US Supreme Court in Graham vs. Florida ruled that a life term without the possibility of parole, for juvenile offenders, was unconstitutional.  The American Psychological Association Monitor in April of this year reported research showing that juveniles were less likely to be sexual recidivist than adults.  Also, the kids respond better to treatment than adults.  So it looks like we may have a chance to turn some of the kids around.  What should be the purpose of our criminal justice policy?  Should be kick butt to give pain to those who deserve it, should we assume that harder kicks will deter better than going soft?  Or, should we consider the research evidence indicating what is the criminal justice policy most likely to reduce the number of future victims, and manipulate the life of the offender so that they contribute rather than harm the rest of us?   Research has shown that brain development continues beyond adolescence.  My experience in a juvenile court setting that many kids will straighten out given opportunities.  In any event, the question raised by the APA asked about the desirability of lifetime supervision of juvenile sex offenders.  Franklin Zimring, in his very fine book An American Travesty: Legal Responses to Adolescent Sexual Offending, argues we must consider the multiple effects of sentences and consider all on a case by case basis.  He is right.