Thismeans that they are under the legal age in their state that allows them tobe tried as an adult. In most states this age is 18, but in a few, the ageof majority is set at 16, 17, or 19. A juvenile delinquent is someone whohas violated a law and is underage. These offenders are also calledinfants.
The history of the juvenile justice system starts the early 1800’sduring the Progressive movement. Certain people, known as “child savers,”within the movement began to emphasize parens patriae, a doctrine thatclaims the state is obligated to protect the well-being of children andstep in should the circumstances deem necessary. The child savers began topush legislature and create institutions for juveniles to elevate childrenabove their criminal environments. The most notable of these institutionsis the New York House of Refuge, which was opened in 1825. Later on, in1899, the Illinois Juvenile Court Act was passed, guided by the generalprinciples of the child savers movement and parens patriae. This actoutlined and created the first court designed specifically for juveniles.
After the first juvenile court was established, there were stillseveral important court cases to help shape it into better form. The mostknown case would be Kent v. United States (1966), this case extended thedue process model of criminal justice to the juvenile court system as well. The decision in Kent’s case would be proved again a year later in In ReGault. Later on, in In Re Winship (1970), the burden of proof was upgradedto “beyond a reasonable doubt” for juvenile acts of delinquency. Theprinciple of double jeopardy was also applied to the juvenile systemcomplying with the decision in Breed v.
Jones (1975). Additionally, thecase of McKeiver v. Pennsylvania (1971) ruled that juveniles are notconstitutionally granted the right to a jury trial. Now to examine the system itself. The first portion of the justicesystem that a juvenile comes in contact with is the law enforcement agency. The police can take juveniles into custody for offenses that would not beconsidered a crime if committed by an adult.
These are called statusoffenses. Examples of status offenders are truants, runaways, curfewviolators, and minors in possession of tobacco and alcohol. Police are faced with the need to use more discretion when dealingwith juveniles because they don’t have the same constitutional rights asadults. For example, childrenin school can be searched with a warrant orprobably cause. Police officers not only deal with the juvenile and hisoffense, but also with his guardian.
Typically, when a juvenile is takeninto custody he is released to his guardian instead of having to post bond. Once a juvenile is processed, they are brought through the courtsystem. Juvenile courts tend to be informal and private and theproceedings deal with both the same types of crimes that adults commit andstatus offenses. Also, not all of the children that come in contact withthe juvenile court system are criminals. Many times we see cases ofchildren who are abused by their family and are there because they need thecourt to intervene for their own protection.
The right for the court toexercise such authority is based on the principles of parens patriae. The final stage of the juvenile justice system is corrections. Thisis where the most differences are found between the juvenile and adultjustice systems. Treatment and rehabilitation are the focus of thejuvenile system as opposed to the punishment of adult offenders. There aremany different viewpoints on how to best treat juvenile offenders in thissystem, and parental involvement is a major key. One theory on delinquency is that it is a disease that can be treatedwith the right medical care and therapy.
This treatment model does notinclude incarceration. Instead it relies heavily on group therapy,controlled diets, and prescribed medication. Another philosophy in juvenile corrections is the communityreintegration model. This is when juveniles are either put in temporaryhomes or released to guardians and are required to do community service aspunishment for their crimes. This allows the offender to correct hismistakes and at the same time become involved with the community.
One other model is called reality therapy. This is when juvenileoffenders will be locked up in a detention facility for a short period oftime to try and scare them in an attempt to make them behave. Having themtalk to prisoners or former inmates will also accomplish this goal. Some people feel that juveniles should be handled in the “justdesserts” manner. In other words, if you do the crime, you must do thetime. This model stresses the offender’s accountability for their crimesand is stricter with them regardless of the offence.
Even though this is amuch harsher way to handle juvenile delinquency it has been proven thatthese children are less inclined to recidivism then those who are putthrough other treatment programs. The prevent/control model is another form of handling juveniles. Inthis model the focus is on deterring delinquency before it occurs. This isdone through different types of constructive activities set up for youths. Types of programs include wilderness programs, sports, and otherrecreational activities.
The object is to give them positive andfulfilling activities so that they will not turn to crime. Setting curfewsfor those under the age of majority also appears to be helpful under thismodel. The last model I will discuss is the justice model. This modelfocuses on fair and reasonable treatment for those found guilty of a crime. It does not reject the rehabilitative model, but claims that a person’svoluntary participation in the program is the key to effectiveness. So that sums up how the juvenile justice system works, but what aresome examples of crimes that land a juvenile in the system? What mostpeople think of first are the crimes that are committed in schools, theseare the ones that are always on the news.
Three main major violent crimesin schools are rape, robbery, and assault. First of all, rape is a very serious crime that is committed withinschools. Most likely, the victim is a girl, and the perpetrator is a youngboy who is misinformed on sex and sexual relations, and has a history ofviolence to his credit. To prevent rape from happening, it is important tohave programs in school about sexual education to make sure that childrenhave the appropriate views on the opposite sex, and what is and is notwrong conduct. Good moral backgrounds are very important to establish in children toprevent school crime.
Robbery is all to common among all types ofstudents, but can not really be stopped until the student has been punished(including suspension, detention, etc. ) enough that he or she finallyrealizes what they are doing is ethically wrong. Assault is another common act of violence in schools. Almosteveryone in the United States has either participated in or witnessed afight at school when they were growing up. The only way to handle studentswho fight is through student anger management programs and punishment.
Teaching students how to handle their anger without coming to blows iscrucial in their upbringing. I feel that the education system is making excellent progress indeterring youngsters from violent crimes in school. With special programson sex education and anger management classes paired with the classicpunishments we have all grown accustomed to, they seem to be makingexcellent progress with the youth. However, the only setback is the lackof government funding to support such programs. If I was in charge, Iwould make sure that such special programs were made available at everyschool. Furthermore, creating a positive environment for children toattend school is also important, and some school buildings are justpathetic and rundown.
These schools need to be rebuilt along withadditional schools to prevent massive overcrowding. In conclusion, the success of the juvenile justice system is veryimportant to our country and it does not appear that any one philosophy oralternative is one hundred percent effective. It is crucial that thejuvenile justice system is constantly studied and reformed to meet theneeds of the juveniles and society. After all, the children are thefuture.