The establishment of a juvenile justice system in the United States of America led to the classification of minors who commit offenses as either juvenile or state offenders. This depends on the type of crime committed by the minor. Status offenses are actions that are not considered crimes if committed by an adult. There are five major categories of status offenses. They include: truancy, running away, ungovernable behavior, underage possession and consumption of alcohol and other offenses such as curfew violation, underage possession and consumption of alcohol.
There is need to correct unlawful behavior among juveniles, in order to prevent delinquency and to reduce adult offenses in the future. The current juvenile justice system provides for correction of state offenders through various ways including requiring the juvenile to attend an education or counselling program, placing them under the care of a person other than their parents or guardians, suspending their driving license or requiring that they pay a fine or restitution. In my opinion, the court should look at the number of status offenses a juvenile has committed when determining a sentence or a sanction. This will help in the decision of the type of corrective measure chosen. It also helps to prevent possible delinquent behavior and to reduce the number of adult offenses in the future.
Repeat offenders should be given additional penalties. This is because repeating an offense is an indication that the initial corrective measure to correct the status offense was not effective. In addition, this indicates a high probability of repeating the offense and advancing to delinquent behavior. Giving additional penalties to juvenile offenders may aid in correction of status offenders.
Steinhart, D. J. (1996). Status Offenses. The Future of The Children: The Juvenile Court.
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