Browsing by Author "Westerholm, Kristina"

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  • Westerholm, Kristina (2008)
    The purpose of this thesis was to gain insight into the juvenile justice systems in the United States and Finland through examining the experiences of probation officers working within the two systems. During the past three decades, the juvenile justice system in the United States has shown an increase of hardened ideologies and a decrease in rehabilitative ideals, which goes against the very foundation of the first juvenile court. David Garland suggests that the increased punitiveness of the U.S. society is a symptom of the era we are living in, which he calls “late twentieth century modernity.” This is an era which has simultaneously recognized profound economic, cultural, social and political changes, and with it creating a sense of ontological insecurity for people. However, juvenile justice policies in Finland during this time have evolved in the opposite direction, placing increased emphasis on the special consideration needed for juvenile offenders. By examining the experiences of probation officers working within the two systems, this thesis attempted to determine what the current atmosphere of the systems was. As such, this study attempted to answer the following questions: (1) are the hardening ideologies supported by the probation officers answers who work with juvenile offenders? (2) How do the probation officers experience working within their respective systems and (3) what are their views on juvenile offenders? Consequently (4) are we able to determine where the current emphasis of the respective systems studied is on a treatment – punishment axis? This thesis utilized an exploratory survey design. Approximately 165 individuals who work for the Probation Service in Finland and the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice in the United States were selected to voluntarily respond to a survey questionnaire. The survey contained both quantitative and qualitative items and was analyzed through quantitative and qualitative methods making it a mixed-model study. The results indicate that probation officers in Finland believe in rehabilitation among juvenile offenders and support a system based on rehabilitative ideals. Probation officers in the United States still believe in rehabilitation as well, but have accepted a system which has evolved to one based on punitive ideals.