The ultimate objective of criminal law is to regulate social interactions and maintain order within society. Many believe the American culture is heading for a spiraling downfall, but this can change if society would realize that improvements towards social engineering begins and largely depends upon the laws they enact. "When people abide by the rules of their culture, they reinforce and add to its structural integrity" (Bromberg, 2009).
If a boy grew up in a home filled with violence and order, when he becomes older and has a family of his own, he may dominate the household using power and violence, making the women and children submissive to him. Domestic violence is viewed as socially unacceptable and if this scenario were to take place the probability of the man being left with no repercussions is highly unlikely, whereas in other countries this may be socially acceptable. For every action is a consequence; whether the consequence is going to benefit the person or put the person at a disadvantage will mainly depend upon the social acceptance of the action. Therefore, laws that are made are exclusively engineered by society. Representatives from each state and county are then able to implement detailed rules the public wants and penalties to go with them.
Laws provide deterrence and makes offenders susceptible to punishment if they decide to break the law. In the 17th century, the largest deterrence was to avoid the stockades or losing a limb. If a thief stole, their fingers would be removed or if adultery was committed a castration was performed. To avoid adultery and theft the penalties were seen as effective deterrents. However, the United States Constitution states that cruel and unusual punishment has been deemed socially unacceptable. When laws become in effect, individuals adapt to avoid punishments; then because the laws are being followed the act becomes socially normal, hence social engineering.
Some innovative suggestions for changes in social engineering could include laws that would address enforcing optimum education and solid foundation for juveniles and their families by implementing an effective juvenile prevention, intervention, and rehabilitation programs. The Head Start Program (low income preschool program) is affiliated with many community partners that support the family in providing a strong foundation for the child through physical, social emotional and cognitive development. If the child has difficulties adapting in school extra assistance is provided to the families to hone in on and correct potential behavioral issues, adjust teaching methods, and providing appropriate resources before the situation gets out of hand. Although this jump start for children helps parents with developing a well adjusted adult, just think of the difference a program like this would make in the public school system.
"Serious and violent juvenile crime has increased significantly over the past few years, straining America's juvenile justice system" (Wilson & Howell, 1996). Even though juvenile criminals are posing a threat to the community, incarcerating them is counterproductive because they will not learn how to be effective in society and learn from their mistakes. Juvenile criminals are still an issue because they are trying to escape home life are not sure how constructively to spend their time. Today, the youth is increasingly influenced by movies, television, and rap music. The appearance of crime is appealing and most adolescence are unaware of the potential dangers, difficult situations, and devastating paths they may be faced with.
Juvenile Criminals are not currently incarcerated, in most states, but sent to juvenile homes for a couple days, and sometimes let off with a warning. After getting out of a detention facility, playing sports, going swimming, they brag to their friends and tell them they would not mind if they went back. If the gang member offense is more severe, such as rape, assault, burglary, or murder, they can then be tried as an adult after the age of 14.
Many would say that government funding is limited in these areas leaving little or no money for improvements. But what if a larger difference could be made by turning these juveniles in the right direction with the proper tools? "Prison only reinforces the most inhumane aspects of the streets" (Rodriguez, 1996). Everyone is born with special abilities and talents. If the child is born in the mainstream he or she uses these skills to succeed, but if they resort to the street life they use these skills to survive. When children and teens become a part of something, they are looking for a place to belong, no matter what the cost. As they learn to survive in the world they learn how to live and learn the tricks on the street; how to break the law without getting caught. For some this is a thrill, for others this may be forced through peer pressure, either way their concept from right and wrong is hazy. Once caught and placed on trial for their actions, depending on their age they can be sent to prison. When these teens are finally sent to prison, everything they learned on the street is reinforced in order to survive; such as disorderly conduct, fowl language, and sexual activities. Although, they should learn to be accountable for their actions, they should also be learning how to turn their street sense into street smarts.
In conclusion, although juvenile criminals are a threat to the community, incarcerating them is counterproductive for two main reasons: first, the youth are not given the proper tools to assist them in learning from their mistakes; but most important, without constructive intervention the youth will never learn how to be effective members of society. By changing the mainstream of how things are dealt with can affect the type and amount of crimes that are committed. Therefore, multiple evaluations of additional options should be considered before resorting to incarcerating the youth or simply making a law because the action seems to be no longer socially acceptable.
Bromberg, S. E. (2009, Febraury 27). The Evolution of Ethics. Retrieved March 3, 2009, from Evolutionary Ethics: http://www.evolutionaryethics.com/
Rodriguez, L. J. (1996). Convicted Gang Youths Should Not Be Incarcerated. In C. P. Cozic, Gangs; Opposing Viewpoints (pp. 127-131). San Diego, CA: Greenhaven Press.
Wilson, J. J., & Howell, J. C. (1996). Convicted Gang Youth May Require Incarceration. In C. P. Cozic, Gangs; Opposing Viewpoints (p. 121). San Diego, CA: Greenhaven Press.