To be locked up at the age of 13 is tragic. It typically implies that the individual had an unstable childhood. They may have been abused and/or neglected. Unfortunately, the juvenile system is sometimes used as finishing school by the indidivuals who are placed there. Rehabilitation is still a traditional model, but with the increase in crime and victimization it does not always happen.
I would agree with the others who say that once that cycle is started it is hard to stop it. I would also say that as a society we need to find ways to help these young men and women earlier in life. I have talked to kindergarten teachers who have said they can pick the high school dropouts from their kindergarten classes. Identify them early and begin interventions.
First you should define “locked up.” It’s one thing if the 13 year old is locked up in Juvenile detention. If this is the case s/he certainly has the possibility of going on the live a socially acceptable adult life. However, if the child is locked up in prison (and some children are) the crime has been so heinous that a youth facility is not deemed appropriate, so the likelihood that the 13 year old can ever rise above this is slim.
I would never write anyone off. Being incarcerated at a young age is not a sentence to continuing to serve time in and out of jails and prisons. I believe that education is the key to opening one's mind to the possibilities of the future. Unfortunately, for many young people, being on the streets and hustling an illegal income is more interesting and fulfilling than wasting time in boring school classes with teachers who are unable to reach them. We have to make school a place where all students feel not only welcome, but engaged. Too many young people do not have access to great schools in their neighborhoods, and school becomes a pipeline to truancy, dropping out, and jail.
That is a very early age for someone to put into jail and they really must have done something bad and have had previous run-ins with the law. Typically and sadly, a person like this will more than likely keep ending up in jail until they are finally there for good. Being this young tells me that this person has been raised in an environment that has not taught them the difference between good decision making and poor decision making.
It really is too bad that Post #3 is right -- that someone getting put away at this age is likely to be in trouble with the law for life.
Sadly, we do not really want to pay the level of taxes needed to truly rehabilitate people like this. It also kind of goes against our inclinations to pay to rehab people who screw up when we could be using the money to help those who haven't.
So it may be counterproductive to put kids that age behind bars, but I don't see it ending.
Crime and incarceration is part of a cycle, and once someone is introduced to that cycle, either inside or outside of incarceration, it is difficult to break. Most crime has economic roots, and other factors such as environment and the lack of dependable role models, could lead someone down a road as depressing as that.
I am not aware if there is increased incidence of increase in number of children in the age group of 13 getting locked up. Assuming this is true, most certainly it is very disturbing trend.
The views expressed in previous posts are all valid and important. However, I think, one very important aspect has not received enough attention. If young children in the society are being locked up, the responsibility for this is the adults who are socially and legally responsible for the development of children in good citizens. Similarly the society, which is dominated by adults must also accept the responsibility for this problem.
Thus there is need to think in terms of what is not being done right by the adults, and what they need to do to rectify the defects of social system giving rise of these problems. Blaming children or just thinking in terms of rehabilitating them is not going to take us very far.