The organization of juvenile justice has witnessed several changes in organization since its inception in the United States of America. At the beginning of the year 1970, the Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services was charged with the responsibility of overseeing juvenile justice intake and corrections, dependency and status offender services. These roles have since been assigned to the Department of Juvenile Justice and the Department of children and families. Rumors currently have it that the discharge of these services may soon be transferred from the Juvenile correctional facilities to the Department of Corrections. This essay will illuminate the organizational structure of the juvenile justice system since the year 1970.
The Juvenile Delinquency Protection and Control Act of 1968 directed that cases touching on children who have been charged with non-criminal offenses be determined outside the court. In 1974 Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act was institutionalized. It recommended for deinstitutionalization of the status of both the offenders and the non-offenders. This Act made it possible for the separation of adult offenders from juveniles as a condition for participation of the state in the formula grant program. The children were then removed from the correctional facilities that were housing the adult offenders. In the 1980s, there was an outcry from the public that more and more minors were engaging in crime-related activities and the government was ‘soft’ on the offenders. Many states responded to this concern by coming up with tougher legislation on juvenile offenders. Such legislations removed offenders from the juvenile justice system and instead handled them as adults. Other laws demanded that the juvenile justice system be modeled like the criminal justice system so as to treat some category of juvenile offenders as criminals in the children’s courts. Consequently, certain offenders would escape the wrath of the juvenile courts and instead, were liable to an automatic waiver at the criminal courts.
Some states gave the prosecutors the privilege of filing some juvenile cases directly in criminal courts instead of taking them to the juvenile courts (Snyder, 1995 p.69). Some states instituted mandatory sentences for juvenile offenders. Phrases like accountability for criminal behavior, provision of effective deterrents, and protection of the public from criminal activity, and imposition of punishment consistent with the magnitude of crime were added to the purpose of clauses of the juvenile codes.
The juvenile justice and delinquency protection act of 1974 after amendments created four custody-related mandates one of which has been extensively discussed above. The jail and lock-up removal of 1980 requires that children charged with criminal acts should not be detained or locked up in an institution that they share with adults. It further directs that a juvenile can be locked up in an adult’s correction facility if the juvenile has been charged in a criminal court for having committed a felony. The sight and sound mandate of 1974 abhor the possibility of the juveniles making personal contacts with adult offenders. The interpretation has been that juveniles and adult inmates are not supposed to see each other or even engage in a conversation. The disproportionate confinement of minority youth mandate of 1992 expects the state to determine the existence and extent of juvenile delinquency in a state and come up with possible ways of containing the vice (Snyder, 1995 p.69).
Florida’s delinquency and dependency process has come up with several ways of addressing youth problems that are thought to be driving them into crime. Individuals and institutions have been urged to commit time, money and expertise in addressing violence against children. Preference has been given to social ways rather than judicial avenues of prevention of juvenile delinquency. The juvenile’s wellbeing was strengthened hence no desire to engage in criminal acts. This helps in reducing state intervention. Aspects of early-phase intervention were also employed. Prevention literally requires in put of individual, group or an organization in helping the youths to keep away from breaking the law. Negative effects of the offense are communicated to the delinquents and attempts are made to reconcile the offenders with the victims. The state of Florida has come up with professional development programs that provide legal alternatives to help in the generation of income. By empowering the young economically, and encouraging them to acquire professional training and education guard the youth from getting involved in delinquent activities.
Education helps the youth by enabling them to appraise themselves, hand conflicts successfully, and control aggression. It acts as a substitute for engaging in illegal behavior. Recreation and youth development activities help in reducing the involvement of the youth in criminal activities. Activities like initiating basketball programs for adolescents lead to a decrease in the crime rate. The level of juvenile delinquency in Florida was substantially reduced by changing the urban environment by altering the physical features. Attention has also shifted to the local community on what role they should play in curbing the soaring levels of juvenile delinquency. Through such schemes, the youth have been kept occupied by undertaking constructive activities. Multisectoral prevention initiatives were designed and implemented by the whole community especially those that majored in the strengths and interests of the youths. Institutional programs were also initiated to provide social and psychological support to groups or individuals. The family as the core institution of socialization was also involved in the program. Management training was offered to parents whose children were affected by delinquency-related issues. Special attention was given to the children living in the streets and those who had lost either one or both of the parents (Circourel, 1995 p.34).
The key statutes that govern the current operation of the DJJ and DCF are summarized into early intervention programs (Cal Wel and Inst code 601.15 of 1999) as well as serious offender’s comprehensive action team (Cal Wel and Inst code 503 of 1999). There is also the interagency children’s services act, (Cal Wel and Inst code 18986 of 1999). The community law enforcement and recovery demonstration project help in the provision of a flexible and coordinated response to crime and in the coordination of prevention and intervention strategies together with community-based organizations (Siegele, 2009 p.45). (Cal Pen [email protected] of 1999).
Theories of deviance are the anomie theory, cultural transmission theory, conflict theory, and labeling and control theory. In the anomie theory, it is believed that deviance emanates from societal stresses. Cultural transmission theory is likened to the way deviant behavior is attained. It is revisited in the theory of differential association which states that those who become deviant always take part in the settings where deviant ideas, motivation and ideals are done. The conflict theorists often busy themselves with thoughts of people who will translate its values into rules of the society and make the rules to an eternity. Labeling theorists study processes in which people get marked as deviants and hence develop character associated with rebellion. Labeling theorists try to demystify aspects of primary and secondary deviance. The control theory is not so concerned with the questions of why people deviate but is more preoccupied with the reasons as to why people do not deviate. It is widely accepted that the young will conform to systems if their bond to society is relatively strong. The bond has got four features namely attachment, involvement, commitment and belief (Bary and Hansen, 2008 p.146).
Scott and Davies came up with structures for constructing an institutional framework. They alluded to the idea that the requisite is the ability to mobilize structures. This is applicable to organizations that are either formal or informal. The structures include the meso-level groups. The second aspect is the political opportunities which are about the structure of political opportunities and limitations that the movement has to contend with. The framing processes entail interpretation, attribution and social construction that bridge opportunity and action. It’s imperative that analytic conventions are stressed. These are replacement of individual organization with the organization field; identification of relevant period of interest and determination of the composition of the field; the presence of external actors and external governance units; constitution of social factors by their behavior (Davis and Scott, 2005 p.9).
The United States government should come up with working legislation that clearly defines the departments which are supposed to handle issues touching on child welfare to hasten service delivery which is often jeopardized due to ambiguity.
Bary, D. and Hansen, H., 2008, Sage handbook of new approaches in management and organization. London: Sage Publications.
Circourel, A.V., 1995, Social organization of juvenile justice, NY: Wiley.
Scott, W.R. and Gerald F.D., 2007, Organizations and Organizing: Rational, Natural, and Open Systems Perspectives. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson/Prentice-Hall.
Siegele, L.J., 2009, Essentials of criminal justice. Belmont: Wadsmith.
Snyder, H.N., 1995, Juvenile offenders and Victims: Analytical Report, Pittsburg: National Center for justice.