Juvenile Justice System Paper




Historical Development
The juvenile court system was established in the United States a little more than a century ago, with the first court appearing in Illinois in 1899. Prior to that time, children and youth were seen as miniature adults and were tried and punished as adults. During the progressive era, which occurred between 1880 and 1920, social conditions in the United States were characterized by large waves of immigration and a dramatic increase in urbanization. As a direct result, hundreds of indigent children wandered the streets, and many became involved in criminal activity. Initially, children who were convicted of crimes were housed with adult criminals. Social activists, lawmakers, and other officials soon realized that children institutionalized with adults were learning adult criminal behaviors and were exiting those institutions ready for life careers in criminality. Because of this negative influence, separate juvenile court systems and accompanying correctional institutions were developed. Early juvenile institutions in the United States were based on the English Bridewell institution which emphasized the teaching of life and trade skills. The idea behind teaching skills was that criminality was a result of the social environment and often was a survival mechanism. If youth were taught other skills, they were more likely to make meaningful contributions to society upon their release. In my opinion, the juvenile justice system is a great approach but needs to be revised. When you have juveniles that are a constant offender it’s time to crack down on juveniles. We do not want our juveniles to be the same as some of our adults in and out of the system.

Predominant Philosophy

The juvenile justice system has been critiqued and criticized numerous times since its inception. Examining the works of Mack (1909), Platt (1969), Caldwell (1961), and Fox (1996) reveals that, although development of the court has taken various shapes and has often been rooted in differing ideas and guiding principles, the overall philosophical view of the purpose of the juvenile court has remained relatively unchanged and, surprisingly, was not unique or pioneered by the creation of the juvenile court. Over time, however, reforms have changed the juvenile court from the original concept of a hybrid between a court of law and a social agency charged with the protection and stewardship of juveniles too, for all intents and purposes, simply a court of law with additional flexibility in the sentencing of youthful offenders. In order to best understand the path, the development of the juvenile court has taken it is best, to begin with, the reasons for its creation. While there is some debate on the official origin of the juvenile court, it that its formation is credited to Chicago in 1899.

Ideological changes in the cultural conception of children and in strategies of social control during the nineteenth century led to the creation of the first juvenile court in Cook County, Illinois, in 1899. Culminating a century-long process of differentiating youths from adult offenders, Progressive reformers applied new theories of social control to new ideas about childhood and created the juvenile court as a social welfare alternative to criminal courts to respond to criminal and noncriminal misconduct by youths.

Juvenile and Adult System

In the United States, both juveniles and adults may be charged with crimes. Both are entitled to be made aware of the charges and to have legal representation. The lawyers in either a juvenile or adult criminal court have the right to question and cross-examine witnesses. Moreover, both juvenile and adult defendants are protected from self-incrimination. Beyond these similarities, these two systems of justice are quite different. Where an adult is accused of a crime, a juvenile is generally accused of a delinquent act. This implies that the infraction the minor is believed to have committed is of a less serious nature. Because they are not adults, juveniles are not afforded the right to a public trial by jury. Their cases are decided by a judge alone. However, the proceedings in adult and juvenile criminal courts are quite similar in that evidence is presented, testimony is given, and witnesses are questioned. In many states, the rules of evidence are less formal in juvenile court, making it easier for both plaintiff and defendant to present their case.

Dependency and Delinquency

Juvenile dependency, on the other hand, is a bit different. Many children in juvenile dependency cases will come to court because their parent or guardian has not taken care of them or has hurt them. These cases are heard in juvenile court just like delinquency cases. The judge will make a very serious and important decision on whether or not a child should be removed from a problematic home environment. In many dependency cases, a social worker will make their presence. This is somebody who has been trained to protect children and keep them safe from harm, taking on their case and getting a better understanding of the situation at hand. If abuse or neglect is happening, the social worker will get to the bottom of it by speaking with the family and children involved. In these cases, the courts do not want to specifically pry a child from their home. In many situations they will work on something known as reunification, where the judge and social worker will force the parents to better themselves and their homes a variety of different ways so that they can bring the child home to a safe and clean place.

A juvenile delinquent is a minor between the ages of 10 and 18 who has committed an act of crime. The minor will usually not have a standard trial like an adult but will instead go through an adjudication process where they will receive a disposition and a sentence. These cases get started when a prosecutor or officer files a civil petition that charges the juvenile with violating the law. If the court decides that the juvenile is determined to be a delinquent, the court will have the authority to rule on what is in the best interest of the juvenile. One should always keep in mind that juvenile court will not always lead to incarceration. The courts may choose to send the juvenile to a traditional juvenile detention facility or place the juvenile under house arrest. Furthermore, judges may choose to sentence them to counseling, curfews, and probation. A juvenile will probably see the courts take more informal steps to handling the case and dishing out the punishment.


Confidentiality is important because you are protecting the safety and well-being of the juvenile and his/her family. There are a wide variety of reasons for strict confidentiality rules with respect to proceedings involving juveniles. Typically, the public has a right to be present in any judicial proceeding and anyone off the street can attend a trial. However, juvenile proceedings are quite often closed to the public; only relevant parties, close family members, and approved attendees will be admitted. The reasons for confidentiality vary depending on the type of proceeding. Juveniles are parties to family court hearings, criminal proceedings, and protective services hearings.


Difference Between Juvenile And Adult Justice Systems





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