Juveniles are technically defined as those who are under the age of 18 or sometimes called minors. Though children, when they are influenced by other people especially older ones or their involvement in their gangs; or if they are under the influenced of prohibited drugs, they are capable of doing and executing crimes. But because they are young and the possibility of rehabilitation is greater than older ones, countries have devised laws that especially cater to their needs as children.
America’s Juvenile Justice System.
The juvenile justice system was already present since the late 1800s. Its aim was to reform the US policies regarding youth offenders and protecting the due process of law rights of youth and creating an aversion toward jail among the young. Before the institution of this kind of justice system, juvenile delinquents who were older than seven years old were imprisoned with adults. But in the early 1900s, social reforms took place including in the justice system. Society begun to realize that it has a responsibility to recover the lives of young offenders before they become used to the criminal acts; as such, the system served as surrogate parents to the young people while they were undergoing reformation and rehabilitation. This paved a way that they will no longer be tried like adult perpetrators.
In 1968, the Juvenile Delinquency Prevention and Control Act was enacted that encouraged states to develop plans and programs that would discourage juvenile delinquency according to their context in their own societies. Further developments were made in 1974 when the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act was instituted. This law provided more opportunities for young people to be rehabilitated through the following entities: Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP); Runaway Youth Program; and National Institute for Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (NIJJDP). All of these preserve the primary aim of the Juvenile Justice System, to separate them from adult offenders and to institute rehabilitation rather than punishment.
Difference with Adult Criminal System
The US Justice System as describe by the Bureau of Justice Statistics assesses that “the processing of juvenile offenders is not entirely dissimilar to adult criminal processing, but there are crucial differences.” In conformation with the laws stated above, at the time of arrest, the law enforcers decide whether the matter should be sent into a justice system are referred to alternative programs. Many juveniles, instead of being tried in court, are submitted to school officials, social service agencies, neighbors or their parents. The aim is to correct their behaviors or conditions without the requisition of formal justice system that may have effect on their psychological well-being.
On the other hand, though there stand a certain protection for juvenile delinquents, they are still allowed to be tried as adults in criminal courts under certain circumstances especially serious ones; however, it is up to the state’s jurisdiction to determine what these circumstances are, meaning they are subjective and vary from state to state. In disposing cases, more discretion is given to cases with juveniles like probation, residential facility, restitution or fines. Children are often, the children are removed from their homes and sent to foster homes for treatment. The court remains jurisdiction over them until they reach the age of adulthood or 21. If they are released from the institution are subjected to aftercare supervision just like any adult offenders.
Preventing Juvenile Delinquency
The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention produced a comprehensive model on how justice system responds to juvenile victims (Finkelhor, et al.). Other than being capable of being perpetrators of crime, they are more vulnerable of becoming victims of delinquency. The juvenile system does not only involve the protection of the young delinquent but also the youth that are victims of crimes. The Urban Institute Justice Policy System’s study states the connection of gun and youth in relation to juvenile justice system.
The problem with our youth today is that they are given opportunity to access such kind of weapons even without the supervision of adults. Whether they have intended the guns to use in criminal acts or not, they are in capacity to do so; as such, the recommendation of the study is to restrict the access of youth to such ammunition. However, the prevention of juvenile delinquency and their vulnerability of becoming victims depend primarily on the care of the parents. The parents are the adult that should be in full supervision of the behavior of their children while they are school and other areas of the community. The following are enumerated for parents to know: listen to your child; be consistent with your child; do not physically or verbally abuse your child; Express love and affection; create a stable family environment; agree upon and follow house rules; discuss problems; meet your child’s friends and their parents; get involved in your child’s school; set a good example yourself; spend time with your child; reward positive behaviors; take care of your own personal problems; get professional help if necessary.
All of above were stated to exemplify that there are special treatments for young people. As they are young, they should still be enjoying the dynamics of youthfulness and in all possibility that the society should be encouraged to restrict these young people to be involved in criminal acts or to becoming victims of such. The Juvenile Justice System at one point also encourages young people to do crimes while knowing that they will be given distinct treatment from adult offenders. The society and the law enforcers in this case are full responsibility to uphold and protect the rights of young people.
“History of America’s Juvenile Justice System.” Lawyershop.com. Retrieved December 9, 2008 from http://www.lawyershop.com/practice-areas/criminal-law/juvenile-law/history/
“The juvenile justice system.” The Justice System. Retrieved December 9, 2008 from http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/justsys.htm#juvenile
“What Parents Should Know About the Juvenile Justice System.” Retrieved December 9, 2008 from http://www.the3rdjudicialdistrict.com/parentsjjs.htm
Butts, J. et. al. (2002.) Youth, Guns and the Juvenile Justice System. Urban Institute, Washington DC
Finkelhor, D., Cross, T., and Cantor, E. (2005). How the Justice System Responds to Jevenile Victims: A Comprehensive Model. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, USA.