A reminder, what does this episode say is the purpose of the juvenile justice system?
According to the information presented in the episode, the purpose of the juvenile justice system is to help teenagers rehabilitate instead of punishing them for their crimes. The author also states that the purpose is not related to obtaining retribution. On the contrary, the representatives of the juvenile justice system are expected to act like parents who care about their children (“Episode 08”). From this perspective, juvenile delinquents receive an opportunity to change their behavior so that they can become active members of their communities in the future.
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What is Joshua’s story?
In 2014, Joshua, who was sixteen years old at the time, was arrested by the FBI for participating in armed robberies at various places, including gas stations. He acted as a member of one of the local gangs, and he used a gun in the robbing of a restaurant although he said the gun did not have bullets in it. The FBI agents and police officers were interested in other persons involved in the robberies because they had been committed by the same gang. The authorities offered Joshua a deal. According to its terms, Joshua was expected to inform the police and prosecutors about the gang in return for not being tried as an adult (“Episode 08”). He accepted the deal without having an opportunity to talk to an adult.
By the end of Episode 8, where was Joshua?
It is stated at the end of Episode 8 that Joshua was sent back to the Indian River in 2017. He was held in D Delta, one of the units in the Indian River where he would not meet the Heartless Felons. Still, he was also unable to leave the unit to attend his school or go other places because of the risk of assault. After several months, the authorities invoked Joshua’s serious youthful offender dispositional sentence (SYO), and he was sent to adult prison (“Episode 08”). There, he was put in protective custody, and there were no cases of assault against him.
In Ohio, at what age can a juvenile be bound over to the adult system?
According to the regulations and norms adopted in Ohio, a juvenile can be bound over to the adult court system at the age of fourteen. Joshua was informed of that when he was offered the deal (“Episode 08”). That possibility made the boy hesitate because there was a risk of being sentenced to twenty to thirty years, as was stated by the FBI agents.
Why did Joshua join the Heartless Felons? Secondly, why would you join while in a juvenile facility?
When Joshua was explaining the nature of his relationship with the gang known as the Heartless Felons, he stated that he had joined it in order to be protected from them. This means that if Joshua had not joined the gang, he would potentially have become a victim of these criminals. There was a possibility of Joshua being forced to participate in crimes because they were interested in exploiting children in their activities (“Episode 08”). Therefore, Joshua mentioned only this specific benefit of being part of the gang.
While being incarcerated in a juvenile facility, it can seem reasonable to join the Heartless Felons or a similar gang whose members are held there because of the influence of these criminals on life in prison. If a prisoner does not belong to the gang, he or she is at a higher risk of being exploited or victimized. Joining the gang in this case is a way to avoid torture and improve the conditions of one’s imprisonment.
The podcast talks about the consent decree – what was it and what was the result?
The deal proposed to Joshua can be regarded as a consent decree establishing a framework for the teenager to testify against the Heartless Felons and provide details about their crimes in exchange for not being judged as an adult in Ohio. According to the SYO, Joshua stayed in the juvenile justice system. Still, he had to behave appropriately in order to prevent the authorities from invoking his SYO and sending him to an adult prison. Thus, Joshua provided the police with all the information he knew about the Heartless Felons (“Episode 08”). However, his chances of behaving appropriately were limited by the fact that some people in prison knew that he had cooperated with the authorities, which caused him to be involved in numerous fights.
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How would testifying in cases in the adult courts affect Joshua’s life in juvie?
When Joshua testified in cases heard in the adult courts, he was not afraid of the members of the gang who were sent to adult prison. There were rumors at Indian River about his role in the cases, but they did not affect the boy. However, another teenager saw him participating in the trials, and this information was disclosed when Joshua was sent to Cuyahoga Hills (“Episode 08”). According to the information provided in the episode, children were not effectively unprotected when they cooperated with the authorities. As a result, Joshua was the victim of several assaults.
What was the result of this?
Joshua’s cooperation with the authorities made him vulnerable while being held at Cuyahoga Hills. Many people tried to assault him, and in 2016, he was assaulted from behind in the schoolhouse. That situation resulted in the boy being sent to the hospital because of trauma (“Episode 08”). There were other fights and assaults initiated against Joshua by the Heartless Felons, and it seemed that some guards did not want to stop them or help Joshua.
How did the staff (guards, etc.) discuss what was happening in the juvenile system?
The staff working in prison does not appear to oppose or prevent the spread of contraband or the flow of cash in their facilities because they benefit from it in some ways. They are interested in fights to increase their control over their units afterward, and they are also interested in contraband because they receive their percentage of cash (“Episode 08”). The staff did not talk about their prison as a place for rehabilitating teenagers because this world is ruled by brutal policies. Thus the juvenile justice system represented by prisons seemed to look more like a black market with power and money.
Why would this behavior happen?
Juveniles try to organize their life in prison according to the rules they followed in their daily life, and they want to win power and influence. Economic relations in the context of prison help distinguish between powerful prisoners, their gang members, and potential victims. Guards and other staff support these relationships because they also gain some financial benefits from assisting the most powerful prisoners. Thus, juveniles are able to continue their contraband activities and build hierarchal relations only because of the staff’s support. Guards are interested in maintaining this situation because it is advantageous for them.
By listening to this podcast, what is your opinion of the juvenile justice system?
Based on the information presented in the podcast, it is possible to say that the juvenile justice system needs reformation with regard to such aspects as the participation of children in consent decrees and the role of guards. Teenagers need to be protected from participating in such deals because of the obvious threats to them. In addition, after being sent to juvenile prison, individuals often find themselves in a highly corrupted world where they cannot feel the security they need to rehabilitate and avoid committing crimes in the future. Instead, after observing how power and money are distributed in juvenile facilities, teenagers learn how to become more hardened criminals.
“Episode 08: A Madman’s Vacation.” Serial, 2019. Web.