The question of whether we should have continued use of a separate juvenile justice system or should we abolish it is a huge debate in the U. S. Is the separate, juvenile justice system still feasible? If not, what can replace it? Policymakers need to confront these questions, and they need innovative answers. New policies should aim for more than simply abolishing the juvenile court’s delinquency jurisdiction and sending all young offenders to conventional criminal courts. The focus of the juvenile justice system is to rehabilitate juveniles, rather than to imprison and punish them.
Many states, such as Massachusetts, have special courts set aside to try juveniles. Others, such as Colorado, have courts that deal with juvenile cases in addition to regular ones. In many states, such as Massachusetts, juveniles, upon arraignment, enter a plea of “delinquent” or “not delinquent”, rather than “guilty” or “not guilty. ” The purpose of this is to establish that they are different from a regular criminal. Unlike normal proceedings, which are almost always open to the public, juvenile courts are usually closed to the public.
Juvenile records are often sealed (made so that they cannot be seen), and are sometimes even cleared when the juvenile reaches a certain age (usually eighteen or twenty-one). In Massachusetts, all court records, including juvenile court records, exist forever. Sealing or expunging a juvenile court record in Massachusetts does nothing. The record is still available to law enforcement agencies and the courts. It is common practice (and in some places even a law) for the news media to not report the name of any minor involved in criminal proceedings.
Juvenile court cases are usually decided upon by a judge, rather than by a jury. The juvenile prison system works under the same philosophy as the rest of the justice system, focusing more on rewarding good behavior, rather than punishing bad. Delinquents being held in these facilities are given the opportunity (and usually ordered by the court) to attend schooling and receive their high school diplomas, GED, or even college credits. Many detention centers offer the inmates a chance to have jobs working around the prison, such as being a teacher’s assistant, gardener, or kitchen staff member.
A compelling argument can be made for abolishing the juvenile justice system, or more specifically, abolishing delinquency, the idea that young offenders aren’t fully responsible for their behavior and should be handled in a separate court system. Abolishing delinquency is not the same thing as abolishing the entire juvenile court. Even if lawmakers ended the juvenile court’s jurisdiction over criminal law violations, the juvenile court could continue to handle other types of cases (example. abused and neglected children, truants, curfew violations). In fact, youthful offenders could continue to be handled by the same judges in the same courtrooms that handle them now, but the courts would operate as youth divisions of a criminal court using criminal procedures under the criminal code. Neither would abolishing delinquency require that all young offenders be sent to adult correctional programs or adult probation agencies. Many states already operate separate correctional facilities for young adults.
The decision to handle all young offenders in the criminal court would not prevent correctional specialization. States would still be free to separate offenders by age when incarcerating or otherwise supervising convicted offenders, and the federal government would still be free to require such separation as a condition of financial support for state corrections agencies. There are so many issues to discuss when trying to determine whether or not to stay with the separate juvenile system that we currently have here in the U. S.
Throughout this paper I will discuss why we should stay with this system and why it works and cause and effect of the system. The Juvenile Justice system was created for youth under the age of 17 who have committed crimes that require incarceration. Many experts argue that if the system focuses on rehabilitation, young offenders are more likely to make positive changes in their life, according to LD Online. Others believe that dangerous juvenile offenders are not punished severely enough in the juvenile system and should be transferred to adult courts.
Because juveniles are closely monitored by parole or probation officers, they are less of a threat to public safety, according to North Carolina family Impact Seminars. In many cases, felonious behavior is later outgrown, according to North Carolina Family Impact Seminars. Juveniles who commit crimes as youth may grow up to be upstanding citizens if they are surrounded by positive influences. According to “The Memphis Commercial Appeal,” violent youth are not dealt with severely enough in the juvenile system.
In Tennessee, for example, if a youth’s crime is not serious enough to transfer him to adult court, the offender is placed in the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services. The department then decides whether the juvenile should be sent to a detention center, rehabilitation program or placed in a foster or group home. If placed in a group home, the offenders are back in the community, possibly becoming a threat again. Officers in juvenile detention centers are trained to work with youth.
When placed in the juvenile system instead of adult court, offenders have a better chance of receiving rehabilitation to prevent future crimes. According to the North Carolina Family Impact Seminars, juveniles in adult prisons are more likely to commit suicide or be sexually assaulted. In juvenile centers, the offenders are surrounded by youth their own age, creating a safer environment. The purpose of the juvenile justice system is to provide an opportunity for rehabilitation of a young person who may not understand what it means to be a member of a community and the social compact to which we all sign on.
If a 12-yr-old doesn’t understand that killing or hurting someone is not acceptable, the JV system focuses on teaching that person why. The courts consider how old the child is and whether that’s enough time to provide services and education to rehabilitate the kid. If the kid is a few weeks from age 18 and has done something terrible, chances are the JV system will not have enough time to turn that person around. In that case, a judge is likely to try the person as an adult.
It’s not as black and white as that. If a younger kid has been in and out of the JV system many times and still offends, that’s a clue to the judge that the kid is not appropriate for a JV sentence and, depending on the nature of the crime, should go to adult court. The pros of the JV system is to turn someone around to avoid a life of crime. The cons of the adult system is that it generally does not consider the developmental maturity of the minor.
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