PLEASE NOTE: To protect your safety in response to the threats of COVID-19, we are offering our clients the ability to meet us via telephone or through video conferencing. Please call our office to discuss your options.

Why jailing a teen for minor drug possession makes no sense

On Behalf of | May 25, 2024 | Juvenile Charges |

Your teenager was caught with drugs in their possession, and you’re understandably upset – but don’t let your frustration push you into taking the wrong approach to the situation.

If you’re tempted to let your teen “take their punishment” for the drug possession charge in hopes that they’ll learn a lesson or get “scared straight,” you need to think again. Allowing a teen to get a criminal record or even go to jail over a minor drug possession charge can be a huge mistake

The stigmatization is real

A criminal record can make it harder for your child to find employment, secure housing, go to college and more. It may also affect the way that they’re viewed by their peers, and lead to public rejection during a very important stage of their social development. 

Jail also exposes teenagers to a criminal environment where they are actually more likely to be “negatively socialized” by associating with more hardened criminals. That could push a vulnerable teen down the wrong path.

The deterrent is not effective 

Research has shown that harsh penalties for drug possession, including jail time, are not effective deterrents for drug use. This is perhaps most true when a teen is addicted to drugs. Over and over again, it has been shown that drug addiction is a disease that requires treatment, not punishment. 

Education, counseling and community-based programs are far more effective in addressing the root causes of drug use and preventing future incidents. In addition, incarceration can actually make mental health issues that may have led to drug use worse – or create new ones, like post-traumatic stress disorder or depression.

If your teen is in trouble over drugs, don’t compound the issue. Instead, be the main source of their support and help them find the most effective defense options. 

FindLaw Network