This report is a presentation made by JRA & Consultants regarding the future of the Juvenile Justice System. A juvenile can be defined as a person who is below a specific age and commits criminal offenses. In some states, a juvenile is a person who is below 16 years while in another state the age limit is not specified, but the maximum age is twenty years but can go further until the youth reaches 21 years.
The department of Juvenile Justice is not only responsible for executing agencies but also for administering most of the delinquency services including, but not limited to; secure detention and commitment programs responsible for ensuring children’s fairness in the legal justice as well as in other social systems. The juvenile court was first implemented in 1899 based on the understanding that juveniles were different from adults and should be tried separately from adults.
The juvenile court system has changed significantly since its original formation. While court decisions have granted minors more rights, the proliferation of drugs and guns, as well as other changing social conditions, has created a rise in juvenile crime that has, in turn, led to tougher laws and increased the number of juvenile transfers to criminal courts. Both factors have caused the juvenile court system to behave more and more like criminal courts over the years, until now the system is almost indistinguishable from its adult counterpart.
Whether one favors emphasizing rehabilitation efforts for juvenile offenders or taking the route of punishing those who break the law, both sides have expressed the opinion that the current system needs to be changed. This paper looks at the problems experienced in the juvenile justice system and the views of JRA & Consultants and of different critics as to whether the juvenile courts should be abolished.
Social and Economic Problems Faced By the Juvenile Courts
The juvenile justice system will face key social and economic pressures at some point in the coming decades. First and foremost, demographic forces will change the perspective of juvenile justice. In the recent past, the teenage population has been decreasing. For instance, between 1980 and 1990, the number of teenagers (aged 10-17 years) declined by about 11%. This was the effect of the ‘baby bust’ decline in the U.S. birthrates that occurred in the late 1960s and 1970s (Siegel & Brandon, 2008 p246).
Regardless of the smaller number of teenagers in society, the fraction of young people processed through the juvenile court and the juvenile corrections system continued to rise. This raise was owed to more official and corrective juvenile justice policies that created more court transfers and extended use of confinement and juvenile imprisonment. Declining resources in the child welfare system have driven more upsetting adolescents to the juvenile justice system.
The demand for institutional beds and out-of-home residency is mounting. A case in point is the large proportions of youths held in custody in several large California counties pending the accessibility of foster or group home beds. Because many juvenile justice clients and their families also are served by child welfare agencies, the dwindling social service budgets lessen the juvenile court’s already scanty treatment resources. These demographic, economical, and fiscal forces mean that the juvenile justice system will handle many more intensely distressed adolescents in the next couple of years.
Over half of the youths in training schools live in constantly congested facilities. Due to the huge problems of prison and jail congestion faced by nearly all states, it is highly doubtful that juvenile corrections administrators will be able to effectively struggle for meager public revenues to erect new facilities. Furthermore, the nation’s experience with prisons and jails demonstrates that exclusive dependence on building new beds hardly ever solves congestion.
Above and beyond problems with overloaded and out-of-date buildings, the juvenile justice system will face the pressing need to employ and train new personnel. The juvenile justice system, like most corporations, will struggle for a declining pool of experienced workers in the subsequent two decades. Salaries in the juvenile justice system conventionally have been lesser than similar salaries in the adult justice system and well below salaries in the profit private sector. Training funds are very limited for juvenile justice personnel. These trends signify very difficult times at the forefront for the already stressed juvenile justice system.
Some would question whether the juvenile court has any future. Escalating numbers of noninterventionist and conformist critics support the elimination of the justice system for children. With its reduced caseload of standing lawbreakers, the juvenile court has lost much of its conventional protective mission (Hess, 2009 p10). Furthermore, the propensity to transfer very serious juvenile offenders to the adult system also has shortened the court’s workload.
Problem of Proceedings
The problem of proceedings is apt to augment in the future as correctional facilities face population increases, crowding, and poor conditions. Proceedings concerning juvenile inmates have also dealt with the conditions of incarceration, and courts have ruled that the state of affairs in some juvenile facilities does comprise brutal and strange punishment. Another lawful issue is the question of defending children from damage and maintaining secure conditions for them while in the state’s care and detention. Centralized courts have ruled that states do have a compulsion to take sensible steps to protect children in their care from physical attacks by other inmates, and are legally responsible for non-accidental injuries sustained as a result of negligence and inaction.
States are faced with the predicament of gigantic costs linked with proceedings, and the rising cost of building and operating correctional facilities (Juvenile Justice System 2002 p1). Proceedings are directly linked to crammed full facilities that augment the anxiety levels of inhabitants and workers who are under pressure to maintain control of a growing and diverse population of lawbreakers. Trying to maintain sufficient staffing levels and lessen personnel costs over and over again results in under-qualified and undertrained workers who may add to the risk of offensive behavior toward a diverse rising institutional population.
Many juvenile court procedures are official, thus necessitating the intrusion of skilled attorneys. Legal procedures are so deep-rooted that legal advice will persist to be essential for supporting the rights of indicted juvenile offenders, as well as encouragement on behalf of the state. Even though the staff of many juvenile support organizations is composed of professionals in the field who know the dealings of juvenile courts, it is the attorneys they hold on to who will put up with blame for most proceedings. This makes sensible sense from the viewpoint of support organizations because prosecutor’s offices will maintain their juvenile trial divisions.
Predicting the Future
The juvenile justice system must face several issues and questions, including the future of the juvenile court, the jurisdiction definition of juvenile, and the age of responsibility. Most states have revised their juvenile codes and redefined the purpose of the juvenile court, de-emphasizing rehabilitation and placing more importance on public protection and safety. Judicial and legislative changes have criminalized the juvenile court. There are fewer differences between the juvenile and the adult courts. Elrod & Ryder (2009 p192) contend that the current juvenile court provides neither therapy nor justice and cannot be rehabilitated.
They have therefore argued for the abolition of the juvenile court as we know it. A more formal criminal court hearing would ensure that juvenile offenders receive the same due process safeguards and constitutional rights as adults in criminal court. Juveniles would be treated differently only at the sentencing phase when they would receive a “youth discount” in consideration of their lower level of maturity and responsibility. In addition to a youth discount in sentencing, Elrod & Ryder (2009 p12) recommend that youths who are sentenced to an institution be placed in separate correctional facilities for youthful offenders.
According to JRA & Consultants envisaging the future is filled with problems. Nonetheless, if the current state of affairs is any suggestion of future development, then it is feasible to make some sensibly well-informed presumptions about what the juvenile system will look like shortly and the disputes that it will face. Maybe the most significant issue facing juvenile justice is whether the juvenile courts should persist to exist or they should be abolished. Some have called for the abolition of the juvenile courts on the basis that they are either reluctant or incapable of protecting the due process rights of juveniles.
Critics of the juvenile courts sustain that the parents’ partial focus of the juvenile courts has led to court practices that refute juveniles the same due process protections given to adults, although the juvenile courts today function much like adults courts, and juveniles may face the same endorsement as adults (Elrod & Ryder, 2009 p442). This means that youths receive neither treatment nor justice in the juvenile courts. Other critics of the juvenile courts assert that they stand for a futile reaction to criminal behavior, in particular serious of brutal delinquent behavior. According to these critics, the criminal courts are better equipped to deal with constant, serious, and cruel juvenile offenders.
Abolition of the Juvenile Court
According to JRA & Consultants abolition of the juvenile court is implausible shortly, but juvenile justice experts welcome the continuing reforms and concur that more changes are needed. Supporters of the current juvenile court admit that juveniles are given uneven and dual processing in court; not the same eminence of due process as adults, and for both punishment and therapy. However, these supporters highlight that not everything about juvenile justice is unenthusiastic or unjust, particularly when juvenile courts do follow the best interests of the youthful lawbreaker and make constructive efforts to provide favorable interventions and programs aimed at delinquent change (Mortimer & Larson, 2002 p118).
Some people are for the juvenile court’s abolition. In this way, juveniles would benefit from having the full legal process-including a right to an attorney and jury trial-while also getting the benefit of the doubt for their inexperience through what is called a ”youth discount”. In a “youth discount” juveniles would automatically get a certain percentage of time off of the mandated adult sentence, with the size of the percentage increase the younger the offender is.
Such a practice would prevent inequalities in current judicial and prosecutorial waivers, which are decided upon by the subjective opinions of judges the lawyers who often treat minorities and minor property offenders unfairly because all juvenile offenders would end up in criminal court (Edwards, 2008 p12-p27). This would also eliminate the inequities in sentences, which can differ widely for the same offenses depending on whether a juvenile is tried in juvenile or criminal court.
According to JRA & Consultants, those who commit acts that are deemed offenses when committed by minors but not when carried out by adults be decriminalized, and instead of sending such offenders to juvenile court, efforts should be increased to provide decent social programs to help kids who haven’t committed a crime. Juvenile courts are needed to provide a specialized venue for children and adolescents and their distinct needs, including a less threatening, less adult-oriented trial system.
Because its center of attention is to meet the needs of offenders, fatalities, and the community at large, the impartial approach to juvenile justice will possibly, provide a significant connection to more compassionate and dynamic ways of acting in response to juvenile crime while at the same time defending community wellbeing. One thing is for no doubt that juvenile courts will go on with handling a diversity of problems presented by a varied and rising population of youths over the subsequent decade.
The Kitty was put into operation in 1981. Before its introduction, funding was sourced from the state budget. In other counties, services to treat delinquent behavior were funded by local agencies which were quite expensive. This resulted in juvenile prisons congestion. Government agencies had to look for other ways of financing these courts to reduce the cost to the state as well as solve the congestion problems. As a solution to solve these problems, Youth Aids programs were launched for treating delinquent and at-risk youth and financing juvenile correctional services.
In early 1994, the Youth Aids program was discussed at length by the Juvenile committee is searching for ways of making the system more successful. The committee decided to re-examine the formula that was used to allocate funds to counties to ensure that counties with a great need for delinquency services received more funds. From 1995 to 1997, the state budget bill came up with a new formula for allocation of Youth Aids which was to be implemented in 1997-1999 budgets.
This revision aimed to ensure that counties with a greater need for delinquency-related services received more attention and to reduce the costs incurred by the state in funding delinquent services (Siegel & Brandon, 2008 p520). A three-factor formula was created to be used in the distribution of Youth Aids to different counties. This formula is based on the number of youths in each county, juvenile arrests in each county, and several placements in correctional institutions.
Many theories have been developed to explain the causes of juvenile deviance, these include; classical, and biological theories. Classical theorists argue that deviant behavior is a product of individual rational choice. Such rational choice is grounded in the human desire for pleasure and aversion to pain. Because of this emphasis on human-centered rationality, classical theorists argued that perpetrators should be held personally accountable for criminal and delinquent acts, and punished accordingly. On the other hand, biological theorists look at bio-chemical relationships, brain wave activity, and other biological determinants of behavior.
According to them, violent behavior is associated with the presence or absence of certain chemicals in the brain (Siegel & Brandon, 2008 p67). Further, research has found that chromosomal factors may be responsible for criminal behavior. If this is true, then some people are victims of their heritage.
In the modern era, punishment is an important alternative for handling serious offenders, and the distraction of juveniles into the adult criminal justice system has become an essential policy of the juvenile justice process. At the same time, the distraction of status and other less significant offenders out of the juvenile justice system is also an essential policy. The contemporary juvenile justice profile is expected to carry on through the near future.
New issues and challenges are definite to arise. Present correctional troubles and anxieties will persist to be debated, and new theories will come out on how to resolve them. Conditions of incarceration are continuing issues so that congestion, management problems, and scoundrel officials will be expected to be at the heart of episodic scandals in the future. Moreover, the problem of scheming effective treatment options will be a constantly debated issue, almost certainly well into the far-away future; it is an issue that essentially requires constant deliberation. A vital question will be how to theoretically separate children in trouble from children in need.
The discussion over the future of juvenile justice will unquestionably persist for some time. Nevertheless, shortly, it is improbable that the juvenile courts will be put an end to, and it is likewise doubtful that the criminal courts will be modernized according to the juvenile court model. What is likely is that substantial energy will be bound for toward shielding the status quo, in some stations, and in others, the thrust will persist to restructure juvenile justice practice.
Because juvenile courts are opinionated institutions, judges, being nominated officials in many cases, are time and again tentative to take risks or act in ways that can be supposed as soft on crime. Hence, juvenile courts, like other courts, tend to be rather conventional institutions that move towards change vigilantly.
Edwards, J. M. (2008). Introduction to the Juvenile Justice System. New York: Lulu.
Elrod, P. & Ryder S. R. (2009). Juvenile Justice: A Social, Historical, and Legal Perspective. New York: Jones & Bartlett Learning.
Hess, K. M. (2009). Juvenile Justice. London: cengage learning.
Juvenile Justice System. (2002). In World of Criminal Justice, Gale. Web.
Mortimer, J. T. & Larson, R. (2002). The Changing Adolescent Experience: Societal Trends and the Transition to Adulthood. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Siegel L. & Brandon C. W. (2008). Juvenile Delinquency: Theory, Practice, and Law. London: Cengage Learning.