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Juvenile and Adult Courts - Essay Example

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The juvenile justice system and the adult criminal justice system are two dissimilar systems of justice and they are founded on different philosophies, although both the systems have close resemblance in many states currently. By and large, the basic distinction between the two systems is that the juvenile justice system mainly focuses on the rehabilitation of juvenile offenders whereas the adult criminal justice system emphasizes the punishment of criminals…
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Juvenile and Adult Courts
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Download file to see previous pages It was perceived, due to the influence of industrialization and modernization, that the children were corruptible innocents and that their upbringing demanded greater structure as prerequisite to adulthood than that had been previously regarded. Based on the assumptions of the social scientists who suggested that children are not responsible for their actions in the same way as adults since they are not fully developed, the idea of juvenile justice system was emphasized. According to this view, juvenile criminality is a kind of youthful illness, which can be cured by relocating the juvenile to a better family life in a rural setting. Thus, the first court designed specifically to deal with children was established in Chicago one hundred years ago which led to the growth of a separate juvenile justice system nationwide. "Juvenile courts are responsible for dealing with children who are accused of committing two types of offenses: status offenses - violations of laws with which only children can be charged (e.g., running away from home); and delinquency offenses - acts committed by a child which, if committed by an adult, could result in criminal prosecution." (Young and Gainsborough, 2000, p 2). Significantly, the premise on which the separate juvenile system rests is that children are developmentally different from adults and that more amenable to treatment and rehabilitation to juvenile criminals can be ensured by this system, unlike the adult criminal justice system. Therefore, it is essential to regard the juvenile justice system and the adult criminal justice system as two separate systems of justice founded on different philosophies, even though there are elements of close resemblance in both the systems.
In a comparative analysis of the juvenile justice system and the adult criminal justice system, it becomes evident that the juvenile court system has been historically distinct from adult courts and both the systems are founded on divergent philosophies. Whereas the adult criminal justice system emphasizes the punishment of criminals, the juvenile justice system is mainly concerned with the rehabilitation and treatment, along with community protection. Rehabilitation and treatment are not primary goals in the criminal justice system and the guiding principle of this system is that criminal sanctions should be relative to the offense committed. On the contrary, "the juvenile justice process centers on the individual child and takes into account the child's problems and needs, focusing less on punishment than on helping the child to change and so minimize the likelihood of future criminal behavior." (Young and Gainsborough, 2000, p 2).
Although there has been an important speculation in the recent years that the clemency within the juvenile justice system is not always the best option for all cases, it is constantly emphasized that there are several momentous differences between the juvenile and adult courts. The terminology used within the juvenile and adult courts offers one of the main differences between the two systems. "For juveniles who are brought into court, the terminology refers to the situation as an 'act of delinquency'. In the adult court the term 'crime' is used. Another difference is the way in which ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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