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Analysis 8 - Essay Example

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Juvenile Offenders and Criminal Justice Introduction This paper would first elaborate about the history and evolution of the juvenile justice system. It (paper) would then go on to focus on the related current state of affairs where, countless juvenile offenders are being tried in criminal courts, owing to intensity of the concerned crimes…
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Analysis 8
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Juvenile Offenders and Criminal Justice Introduction This paper would first elaborate about the history and evolution of the juvenile justice system. It (paper) would then go on to focus on the related current state of affairs where, countless juvenile offenders are being tried in criminal courts, owing to intensity of the concerned crimes. After that, the focus would move on to having an understanding about the possible outcomes, when young criminals are dealt with in regular law courts. These outcomes are in relation to both the juveniles and also the overall society. History and evolution of the juvenile justice system The juvenile justice system came into existence during the initial phase of the twentieth century, based on the principle that there is a striking difference between adults and children. Also, it was considered that the state is vested with the responsibility of reforming juvenile offenders. This would be possible only when there is a separate system of justice for the young criminals. Earlier, the same criminal justice system was applicable to all criminals, irrespective of their ages. (1) In the US, the first law court for handling cases related to juvenile offenders came into being in the year 1899. And twenty five years subsequent to that, almost all states of the country (the US) were having a separate juvenile justice system. The primary objective of adhering to this separate justice system was to reform the younger criminals, by treating them in a highly humane manner. At this point, it needs to be understood that it was only after a struggle of nearly three centuries that a separate system of justice for the younger offenders came into vogue. (1) Juvenile criminal justice system- too liberal to be effective Since the start of the 1980s, the society’s perception of juvenile crime started to get transformed, courtesy the alarming rise in criminal acts attributable to younger perpetrators. Many quarters of the society strongly opined that the juvenile criminal justice system was too liberal, and that it should be abolished. As a direct result of this public outcry, several key changes were initiated in the legal avenue. Because of that, a new pattern emerged where; it became rather simple to be transferring cases of juvenile criminals to the regular law courts. Gradually, the focus shifted from “reforming” to “punishing”. (1) Presently, trial of a juvenile offender in a criminal court is permitted in all the fifty states of the US. Whether or not a case needs to be transferred to the adult law courts is subject to the discretion of the juvenile court judge. In fact, this transfer is termed as ‘waiver’. Since the preceding few years, more and more young offenders are being tried in regular courts, and there is a highly valid reason for that. There has been a drastic rise in the incidence of juvenile crime. And what is most perturbing is that many of these crimes were extremely violent ones. In light of that, it is but the need of the hour that the hitherto lenient approach towards juvenile offenders is discarded. (2) The following statistic would just go on to add weight to the points discussed in the preceding paragraph. A study showed that, between the years 1988 and 1992, there has been a 68 percent rise in the crimes involving severe violence where, the perpetrators are juveniles. Also, CECP (Campaign for an Effective Crime Policy) strongly voices the view that it is but inevitable that there is a further rise in juvenile crime. (2) There is also another factor, which has led to an increasing number of cases being transferred from juvenile courts to the adult courts. The legal fraternity is of the opinion that there are some crimes so serious that there is no possibility of reforming the doer, even if they happen to be a juvenile. The criminal justice system is the one that is apt for dealing with all such cases. (2) Transfer of cases from juvenile courts to adult courts- Consequences It has to be candidly admitted that carrying out the trial of juvenile criminals in criminal courts are not without some adverse consequences, in the long run. Firstly, it needs to be specifically mentioned that when similar crimes are considered, the sentences handed out in criminal courts are more severe than those given by juvenile courts. Various studies that have been conducted on this issue show that when juveniles are brought to criminal courts, the same does not bring about a decline in crime rate (committed by juveniles). (3) Several leading studies also suggest that when a juvenile is handed out punishment in a criminal court, they are more likely to repeat the crime, after being released from the prison. Likewise, it is also seen that when young offenders are given sentences as per the juvenile law, they are less likely to again indulge in crime. As a matter of fact, these studies subtly point out that it is rather unfair to be subjecting young people to the waiver process. (3) Some logical conclusions can be drawn from the last two paragraphs. When more and more juvenile offenders are punished as per the criminal justice system, there is every possibility that they would grow up to be professional criminals. The harsher sentences would invariably make them develop hatred towards the society and the legal system! As a consequence of that and with the passage of time, there would be an avoidable rise in the number of criminals endangering society. It is not at all an exaggeration in maintaining that, it is the harsh treatment by the criminal court that transforms a juvenile into a habitual criminal. On the other hand, when criminals (juveniles) are handed out sentences as per the juvenile law, there is opportunity for them to get reformed and become responsible members of the society. Conclusion This paper can be concluded with the hope that judges of juvenile courts are very careful before transferring cases to criminal courts. A balanced approach needs to be adopted towards the juvenile offenders where, the aspect of rehabilitation is given paramount relevance. The topic of this paper is an exhaustive one and it is not possible to cover all its aspects in a brief paper such as this one. Yet, a sincere attempt has been made to encompass the most salient of all the points. Sources 1) “Juvenile Justice History”, cjcj.org/juvenile/justice/juvenile/justice/history/0, Internet, Center of Juvenile & Criminal Justice, ND. 2) “Juvenile Justice Reform Initiatives in the States”, ojjdp.gov/pubs/reform/ch2_j.html, Internet, NP, ND. 3) “JUVENILE JUSTICE”, pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/juvenile/stats/kidslikeadults.html, Internet, WGBH Educational Foundation, 2011. Read More
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