Date of Paper

5-2012

Type of Paper

Clinical research paper

Degree Name

msw

Department

socialwork

First Advisor

Pa Der Vang

Abstract

Nearly two million young people, under the age of 18, are arrested each year nationwide (Gottesman & Schwarz, 2011). Of these youth, 70% are male, and 46 % are African American (McPherson & Sedlak, 2010). Approximately two thirds suffer from symptoms of aggression, depression or anxiety. Those who suffer from behavioral symptoms, 27% suffer from severe and persistent mental illness. (McPherson & Sedlak, 2010). Similar statistics exist within the Hennepin County justice system. These statistics paint a frightening picture of a system in which emotionally and behaviorally disturbed African American males are grossly overrepresented in both the local and national juvenile justice systems. This study seeks to capture perspectives about the effectiveness of the Juvenile Justice system in addressing factors that lead to the high rates of recidivism seen in African American male offenders with identified emotional/behavioral health concerns (EBD). An online survey, made up of open and closed questions and tailored to solicit this information was used. The sample was composed of thirteen professionals including both attorneys and social workers working in and on behalf of the juvenile justice system in Hennepin County, Minnesota. Results were consistent with existing research and theoretical understanding in the area. They revealed an overwhelming perception that the juvenile justice system is in need of reform and raised the question “what are the limits of the juvenile justice system?”

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