Much of the time, when we examine the populations that are in juvenile detention facilities, we find not offenders who are truly evil or badhearted and unable to be rehabilitated. We find children who have often grown up too early in awful circumstances and as a means for survival, they have resulted to crime. Many of the crimes are survival based crimes because youth are forced to turn to organizations (like the mafia or gangs) and other unfortunate things to make up for where their home life and society are not supporting them.
The United States is very unique in the sense of how punitive and formal we are with youth offenders and only until relatively recently have we decided youth shouldn't be subject to the death penalty.
I believe that with youth, we should (even more so with adult offenders) be focusing on the future and building stronger people, not putting them in facilities which only teach them prison culture, and if they manage to get out, that is all they know so they end up right back in prison.
I have had an idea. Youth are influenced all the time. How about changing the setting. Put them in a facility or home. Change the influencers by having dependable people set the example. Show them what love is and that they can still have a chance of a good life with rehabilitation.
I know this sounds very utopian and optimistic, but I think it could actually work. Change the setting, change the role models.