training school | Definition

Doc's CJ Glossary by Adam J. McKee
Course: Introduction / Juvenile Justice 

Training school is a somewhat dated label for juvenile correctional institutions.

Juvenile correctional institutions have undergone a significant transformation over the years, and the term training school is no longer an accurate label for these facilities. The term was commonly used in the early 20th century when the focus was on rehabilitating delinquent youths through military-style discipline and vocational training.

However, research has shown that this approach is ineffective and can actually be harmful to young people. Today, juvenile correctional institutions aim to provide comprehensive rehabilitative services that address the underlying issues that led to delinquent behavior. These facilities provide a range of programs and services, including educational programs, counseling, mental health services, and vocational training.

The shift away from the term training school reflects a broader shift in thinking about juvenile justice. Historically, the focus of the juvenile justice system was on punishment and retribution rather than rehabilitation. However, in recent years, there has been a growing recognition that this approach is counterproductive and that the best way to reduce delinquency and promote public safety is through a focus on rehabilitation and treatment.

The move away from the term also reflects a broader shift in the language used to describe young people who come into contact with the juvenile justice system. Terms like “delinquent” and “offender” are now seen as stigmatizing and counterproductive, as they can reinforce negative stereotypes and undermine efforts to promote positive change.

Instead, the preferred terminology is now “youth in custody” or “justice-involved youth,” which emphasizes the need to treat young people in the justice system with dignity and respect and to focus on their needs and potential for growth and development.

In addition to changing the language used to describe juvenile correctional facilities and justice-involved youth, there has also been a growing emphasis on the need to reform the juvenile justice system itself. Many experts argue that the current system is overly punitive and does not adequately address the underlying issues that lead young people to engage in delinquent behavior.

Reform efforts have focused on a range of issues, including reducing the use of incarceration, increasing access to community-based alternatives to incarceration, improving conditions of confinement, and providing greater access to education, mental health, and substance abuse treatment.

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Last Modified: 04/21/2023

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