If a young person gets off track and in trouble with the law, it is important that he or she is held accountable. But that accountability should be within reason. Juveniles are not the same as adults. They have not reached mental and emotional maturity, and as such, when meting out penalties to juveniles, it is best that emphasis is placed on helping them become better citizens. And to this end, incarceration often does just the opposite.

And according to a study conducted in Arkansas, youths who had been subject to incarceration were more than 13 times likelier to commit crimes in the future. And this is why probation is typically a much more sensible option for juvenile offenders.

Most of the juveniles who land in the criminal justice system got there by committing non-violent offenses, such as possession of alcohol, shoplifting or vandalism. It simply does not make sense to expose these individuals to the more hardened criminal element that is found in detention centers and jails.

Juveniles who receive probation may have to do community service or participate in some other type of rehabilitative program. And if probation works as intended, it could have a very positive impact on a young person’s life.

If your child has gotten in trouble with the law, you may want to get in touch with an experienced criminal defense attorney. An attorney can act on your child’s behalf by asking for probation rather than having the case go to trial. Or if the case does end up in court, the attorney can work in an effort to get the judge to grant your child probation rather than incarceration.