Law free essay: Juvenile Justice System
Juvenile Justice System
- Definitions of delinquency and status offenses
Young people undergo various defiant stages in their lives always causing problem misunderstandings and sometimes spilling out of the family into the criminal jurisdiction. Elaborate mechanisms defined by law handling minors breaking set out laws for compliance by members of the public also define how such defiant children need for correctional purposes. Juvenile justice system, which is slightly different from that of adults, exists, within the information framework that children might fall prey to developmental challenges. Available information on juvenile delinquency therefore presents the juvenile justice system with various important decision making considerations on the criminal actions or omissions by minors that may amount to breach of the effective laws. According to Siegel and Welsh (2011), some of the delinquent behaviors that land minors into trouble include drug and narcotics abuse, joining violent youth street gangs, stealing, possession of illegal firearms and bullying in schools and many more acts that are criminal.
Delinquent justice systems around the world are specialized and distinct from adult systems due to the acknowledgement of the development challenges that would otherwise be provided and assist the juveniles to change their behaviors. Within the juvenile justice system, status offenses also amount to criminal actions that are punishable among the young offenders. Status offenses include those crimes that only amount to crimes when committed by children and are not crimes when adults commit them. The main criteria used in definition of status offenses lie in age status of the offender. As an illustration, possession or use of tobacco and alcoholic products may not be a crime for adults but amount to a crime when minors are involved. Others include disobeying parents and teachers, speaking in profane language, taking part in sexual and other immoral class of conducts, running away from home, following bad company and friends and skiving classes (Siegel and Welsh, 2011).
- Comparison of juvenile courts and adult courts
Both juvenile and adult offenders had a similar criminal justice system at the beginning of the nineteenth century. However, developments in recognition of children rights followed a path that recommended a more considerate jurisdiction in matters involving children. Probation concepts towards 1840s paved way for reforms in correction facilities to accommodate a more humane way of treating children offenders, bearing in mind most of the status offenses have a lower threshold of qualification. Evolution of the juvenile criminal justice with a more probation bias witnessed the formation of children correction rights groups such as the Children’s Aid Society and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children and many more that greatly influenced the criminal justice system towards the turn of the 18th century (Siegel and Welsh, 2008).
Juvenile courts in the 1900s created the distinction that precipitated in the continued reforms in the juvenile justice system, with the sole aim of prevention of delinquency and rehabilitation of the children offenders. Juvenile courts’ judges to this day bear the responsibility of recognizing children’s behavior difficulties and making the appropriate input in prescription of correction interventions. Correction facilities in the juvenile justice system have a face of rehabilitation and lenience as opposed to a punitive concept that guides the adult justice system. Children offenders found needy of juvenile justice system interventions are placed in the care of the rehabilitators with child handling training. Children rights groups follow closely the performance of the facilities and institutions to ensure that the system is not punitive but as centers where rehabilitation is imparted (Schmalleger, 2011).
The adult courts on the other hand pay attention to more seasoned criminals and a punitive approach that aims at acting as a deterrent to potential criminals takes center stage. Despite the continued improvement in the adult criminal justice system that target prisoners’ rights of a humane treatment by the justice system, the sentences passed to adults are ensured to infringe punishment so that potential offenders can learn from such predicament and desist from such acts. In view of the correction facilities in which adult prisoners spend their sentences, provision of various services offered to children, as a mandatory requirement is not necessary. For instance, children rehabilitation facilities must offer education, which would be more of a privilege to adult offenders. Adult offenders do not enjoy age as a remedy for appeal in certain cases, where the judge may consider lenience based on age of the juvenile offender. However, the adult justice systems also possess some form of rehabilitation concept but not as elaborate as witnessed in the children justice system, which places central attention to rehabilitation than punishment as, witnessed in the adult system.
- Variables that correlate with juvenile crime rates
Juvenile crime rates and delinquent conduct take shape more pronouncedly when particular variables and preconditions exist in the environment in which the child grows. Development of social and psychological skills and maturity is usually marked as positively attained when the child successfully overcomes the pressures of defiant stages of development. However, personal development largely forms as a function affected by the existence of various sociocultural and economic factors that the consideration of such factors could form important juvenile delinquency prevention policies by the children protection agencies and government departments. Among the most important variables, family environment highly contributes to the extent to which children fall vulnerable to delinquent conduct. In the modern age, families experience different pressures ranging from separation to dissolution, which disorients youths from their development of psychological and social skills. Marriage failures expose children to inappropriate social model in the family, which ought to take a central role in molding the life of the children.
Additionally, poor living standards at the household level generates pressure to the children as much as they affect parents, leading to psychological challenges likely to erupt in form of delinquent behavior. Poverty prevents youths from having options of utilizing their leisure and free time in a productive way. Coupled with the frustrations of a low quality of life, children brought up in extreme poverty experience the highest cases of delinquent behaviors as a means of survival. Other closely related factors include child abuse, a highly materialistic society, poor quality and poor delivery of education, neighborhoods that are not conducive to positive living, moral decadence in the society, fewer role models and uncensored media among many others expose children to dangers of delinquent habits (Siegel and Welsh, 2011, p7).
- Current U.S. juvenile crime statistics
Juvenile offenses continue to increase according to the current juvenile crimes statistics in the US, perhaps due to the crime variables highlighted above. A more complicated society that breaks more families apart and embraces lifestyles that paint negative habits as a fashionable way of life in the US and indeed around the global civilization exposes children to more threats of delinquency than before. Technology continues to reach more children and introduce them to more good and bad literature and information leading to a setting of unprecedented carelessness among the youths (Siegel and Welsh, 2008). As an illustration, the internet, which has minimal censorship for adult or otherwise dirty content and exchange of such information, implies that more children continue to be exposed to negative information and bad influence.
- Effects of more juveniles being tried as adults
Trying juveniles as children is perhaps unfair in this age where information backs the observation that children are incapacitated to make informed decisions as adults in committing crimes. Adult system is expected to offer deterrent outcomes to other criminals who have a learning capacity at their adult age. This implies that meting punitive sentences to children who have not reached that informed state of psychological development would deny them a chance that would be enhanced through appropriate rehabilitation. In a society facing all types of social ills, children can be expected to fall prey to confusion regarding their psychological and social development thereby exposing them to behaviors that are more delinquent. In such a scenario, it would only be just for the justice systems to enhance empowerment platforms where children obtain the necessary behavior skills than punishing them unfairly. As witnessed in the common law interpretation of the principle of guilt commonly referred to as actus non facit reum, nisi mens sit rea, knowledge of guilt in committing the crime is a fundamental justice consideration (Huss, 2008). Ability of the offender to discern wrongdoing is perhaps not at its best when the offender is a minor due to the development inadequacy that could be facilitate if the offender got the appropriate environment.
- One current issue in the juvenile justice system and your opinion on that issue
The inability of the justice system to deal with social moral decadence due to lack of mandate and scope perhaps poses as a threat to future of juvenile justice system. A continued case of children exposure to extreme cases of immorality that is gaining a judicial recognition presents a challenge to the children and the society. As an illustration, contestable laws and court rulings that expand individual rights to people who rise to celebrity status expose children to poor role models. Technology presents a platform where bad company and substance procurement can proceed without surveillance thereby increasing cases of delinquent behavior. A suddenly changing society due to integration of cultures and civilizations backed by technology and secularism exposes children behavior to untold risks. The only solution for this risk is for families and parents to redefine child protection responsibilities and national facilitation of social institutions based on morality must be considered (Siegel and Welsh, 2011).
Barkan, S. E. & Bryjak, G. J. (2011). Fundamentals of criminal justice: a sociological view (2nd Edn), London, UK: Jones & Barlett Learning International
Huss, M. T. (2008). Forensic psychology: Research, clinical practice and applications. West Sussex, UK: John Wiley and Sons
Schmalleger, F. (2011). Criminal justice today: An introductory text for the 21st century (11th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ. Pearson/Prentice Hall.
Siegel, L. J., & Welsh, B. C. (2008). Juvenile delinquency: The core. Belmont, CA: Wordsworth
Siegel, L. J., & Welsh, B. C. (2011). Juvenile delinquency: Theory, practice and law. Belmont, CA: Wordsworth
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