This commentary originally appeared as an op-ed in the Mount Desert Islander.
Historically, research has repeatedly shown that juvenile justice interventions often result in outcomes that are the opposite of what was expected or intended. For example, most people would agree that youth who commit crimes need more structure and self-discipline in their lives. This perspective led to the proliferation of military style boot camps in the 1990s designed to reduce delinquent behavior. While this intervention would seem, at face value, to be harmless and well suited for teaching teens to be more responsible, subsequent evaluations showed strikingly different results. That is, boot camp interventions actually increased youth antisocial behavior problems and did so at considerable financial cost.