Juvenile Justice System Challenges

Juvenile Justice System Challenges

Kaplan University


Juvenile Justice System Challenges

The juvenile justice system has evolved tremendously since it was created; however, even in the twenty-first century there are still challenges and unique issues within the juvenile justice system. Some of the issues that the juvenile justice system is facing are safety concerns when the juvenile is housed within a correctional facility, recidivism rates upon reentry, as well as the amount of juveniles being waived into the adult judicial system; however, it is also necessary to discuss the increase of violence towards children and how that might affect the future of the juvenile justice system. By recognizing these challenges and issues individuals can then focus on advocating for the appropriate changes to be made in an effort to continue to better the juvenile justice system as a whole.

One of the challenges plaguing the juvenile justice system is the amount of juveniles being waived into the adult justice. There are three different types of waivers that can be used when a juvenile is being waived into the adult judicial system. According to House (2013), a legislative waiver allows for the juvenile to be tried in adult court once the statutory requirements are met, a prosecutorial waiver allows for the prosecutor to decide where the juvenile will be tried, and lastly a judicial waiver allows the juvenile court judge to make the final decision on whether or not the juvenile should be transferred.

By waiving juveniles into the adult judicial system and housing them with adult offenders, there is an increased risk of the juvenile being abused, which then arises another problem. With an increased number of juveniles being transferred to adult courts and housed in adult correctional facilities the problem then becomes either to house the juvenile with other adult offenders that can physically and emotionally harm the juvenile or place the juvenile in isolation for extensive periods of time, which can cause psychological harm to the juvenile. According to Bureau of Justice Statistics (as cited by Ryan, 2014) juveniles represented thirteen percent of all victims of inmate sexual violence in jails and only one percent of inmates are juveniles. Although a juvenile could have committed a crime that would warrant his or her placement in the adult judicial system it is imperative that their safety be taken into account, less the juvenile be released a hardened criminal, caused by his placement and subsequent experiences in the adult prison system.

There have been recent concerns about the juvenile justice system becoming more punitive instead of rehabilitative and this is evident through a failing re-entry system. According to Sells, Sullivan, and Devore (2012), juvenile recidivism rates have been reported as high as sixty-six percent when measured by a subsequent arrest and thirty-three percent by reconvictions after release; furthermore the lack of family therapy, support upon release, and a healthy environment for the juvenile to return to upon release are contributing factors to these recidivism rates. Research has been done and according to Cramer Brooks and Roush (2014), the National Juvenile Detention Association stated that the most effective way for a juvenile to have the most success at re-entry into society is for them to return to a stable environment, with healthy familial relationships, and a healthy outlook and perspective. Unfortunately in modern day society there are many instances of juveniles being released in society to situations that are not necessarily conducive to success; therefore, beginning family therapy and setting the juvenile up with skills to maintain productivity upon release will allow for a continued reduction in the recidivism rate.

Lastly, the amount of juveniles entering the juvenile judicial system who either experienced with drugs or alcohol or who are addicted to drugs and alcohol is on the rise and this rise of drugs and alcohol impacts the juvenile justice system. According to Seifert, Schmidt, and Ray (2012) of all the juveniles in the juvenile justice system two-thirds of those juveniles have substance abuse problems or mental health issues and the juvenile justice system is not equipped to treat these underlying issues. There is some speculation that the drug and alcohol use in juveniles can be directly attributed to the juveniles experience with abuse and neglect. Juveniles that experienced neglect at a young age were more likely to participate in drug and alcohol abuse and in the United States approximately 7 out of every one thousand children experienced neglect (Chen, Propp, deLara, & Corvo, 2011).


Chen, W., Propp, J., deLara, E., & Corvo, K. (2011). Child Neglect and Its Association With Subsequent Juvenile Drug and Alcohol Offense. Child & Adolescent Social Work Journal, 28(4), 273-290. doi:10.1007/s10560-011-0232-2. Retrieved from http://eds.b.ebscohost.com.lib.kaplan.edu/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=e23c46e7-5671-4b0a-a925-bc0588ac5b30%40sessionmgr115&vid=23&hid=103

Cramer Brooks, C., & Roush, D. (2014). Transformation in the Justice System. Reclaiming Children & Youth, 23(1), 42-46. Retrieved from http://eds.b.ebscohost.com.lib.kaplan.edu/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=1c3ed75c-3c34-4792-bfc8-96bb5c280548%40sessionmgr114&vid=11&hid=103

House, R. (2013). SEEN BUT NOT HEARD: USING JUDICIAL WAIVER TO SAVE THE JUVENILE JUSTICE SYSTEM AND OUR KIDS. University Of Toledo Law Review, 45(1), 149-179. Retrieved from http://eds.a.ebscohost.com.lib.kaplan.edu/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=34ddb8eb-5451-47dd-bbee-f172811886f6%40sessionmgr4005&vid=2&hid=4113

Ryan, L. (2014). YOUTH IN THE ADULT CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM. Cardozo Law Review, 35(3), 1167-1184. Retrieved from http://eds.a.ebscohost.com.lib.kaplan.edu/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=34ddb8eb-5451-47dd-bbee-f172811886f6%40sessionmgr4005&vid=7&hid=4113

Seifert, K., Schmidt, R., & Ray, K. (2012). Youth Violence: Theory, Prevention, and Intervention. New York: Springer Pub. Co. Retrieved from http://eds.b.ebscohost.com.lib.kaplan.edu/eds/ebookviewer/ebook/bmxlYmtfXzQwMDUyMV9fQU41?sid=e23c46e7-5671-4b0a-a925-bc0588ac5b30@sessionmgr115&vid=7&format=EB&ppid=pp_216

Sells, S., Sullivan, I., & DeVore, D. (2012). Stopping the Madness: A New Reentry System for Juvenile Corrections. Corrections Today, 74(2), 40. Retrieved from http://eds.a.ebscohost.com.lib.kaplan.edu/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=34ddb8eb-5451-47dd-bbee-f172811886f6%40sessionmgr4005&vid=13&hid=4113