Maharashtra observes high recidivism in juveniles in conflict with law

A recent data released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) has revealed a shocking fact that there has been a vast increase in recidivism — tendency of a convicted criminal to re-offend — among juveniles than in adults in the state from 2016 to 2018. While there was a slight dip in the percentage of recidivism among minors in 2017, the rate shot up from 3.15 per cent in 2017 to 11.16 per cent in 2018.

NCRB data states that while 7,712 juveniles were arrested in 2016, the number drastically shot up in the succeeding year to 20,560 and again dipped to 9,683 juveniles being arrested in 2018. While in 2016, only 382 minors turned to crime after being arrested once, the number of repeat offenders who were arrested and convicted kept increasing with 649 and 1,081 in 2017 and 2018 respectively.

The Juvenile Justice Act mandates that children found in conflict with law be sent to a special home that provides reformative services like education, skill development, counselling, behaviour modification therapy and psychiatric support during their stay.

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Meanwhile, there was a steady increase in the number of repeat offenders in adults, but when percentile was considered, 2018 saw a dip. According to the NCRB data, in 2016, of 3,27,965 arrested adults, 3,819 turned to crime, which saw a drastic spurt in the succeeding years. Of the 3,22,181 people arrested in 2017, over 33,645 were repeat offenders, while in 2018, the number of recidivists dipped to 26,641, of the total 3,38,896 people arrested.

A senior policeman attributed the sudden spurt of recidivism among juveniles to easy access of internet, added knowledge of technology and ways to manipulate technology as well as people in a bid to dupe them. Moreover, constant measures and strict rules are being followed by police to curb recidivism, giving the arrested accused a new path of life in accordance with the law and order.

A city-based child psychologist, Dr Ali Gabrani, who practices at Masina Hospital, claims arrestees need proper counselling inside prison to reduce the number of repeat offenders. “Along with stringent law enforcement, police should primarily give closed-door guidance to the arrested accused, especially the juveniles, who are at conflict with law, as they are at a very fragile age. If they are faced with punishment and law, that could further aggravate their angst towards the law and order. Subsequently, they also need the family/peer support, to motivate them to lead a respectable life and not find shelter in crime.”

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The reason for an increase in repeat offenders is attributed to their rigid attitude towards the punishment and law, claims a social activist. What law enforcement agencies need to do is keep a close watch on offenders and prevent crimes, like it happens in other countries, opined the activist. Also, they need to carry out investigations in a diligent manner so that offenders don’t get away with crimes.