New Jersey Juvenile Incentive Program Meets Scrutiny

An incentive program that rewards juvenile offenders in Camden County, New Jersey, with free electronics if they follow the rules of their probation has come under scrutiny. Officials with the Camden county Probation Subcommittee who rolled out the incentive program say that the program is a way to reduce juvenile crime in the county.

Critics counter that the program rewards juvenile offenders for doing what they’re supposed to do anyway.

Under the incentive program, Camden County juveniles on probation can receive a $300 electronic device along with gift certificates to buy accessories if they follow the rules of their probation. The program is paid for by tax dollars, according to columnist Jeremy Rosen, a writer for the Courier Post.

This isn’t the first controversial incentive program launched in the area. According to the Post Courier, Camden City, New Jersey, also had rolled out a truancy-prevention program that paid students $100 a week to attend all of their classes.

According to the column, Camden County is the only county in New Jersey that rewards juvenile offenders for following the rules of their probation.

So far, 54 juvenile offenders who have completed their probation have received their choice of electronic items such as a notebook computer, television or MP3 player. According to the Courier Post, all of the electronics items cost $300 or less.

It is no surprise that the program has generated controversy. Citizens are not thrilled to see their tax dollars being used to reward young offenders who should be following the rules without any incentives. But the bigger question here might be this: Does the incentive program work? Does it reduce juvenile crime in this New Jersey County? If it does, then the citizens here have to decide whether that benefit outweighs their moral qualms at rewarding offenders for following the rules.

Source: Courier Post, “Camco program gives TVs and iPods to juveniles on probation,” Jeremy Rosen, Nov. 17, 2011

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