A Critical Look In Current Events Facing Juveniles In The Juvenile Justice System

2369 words - 9 pages

A Critical Look in Current Events Facing Juveniles in the Juvenile justice system

The juvenile justice system was founded on the belief that juveniles should be rehabilitated from committing crime. It was the belief of the government that juveniles do not posses the cognitive reasoning of adults, therefore should not be punished as adults. The juvenile court was formed in 1899 with the belief that the government needs to play a more active role in the rehabilitation of juveniles. This belief held strong up until the 1980's when President Ronald Reagan took office. The beliefs in juvenile rehabilitation were fading and an alternative was rapidly being put into motion, juvenile incarceration. Juveniles being incarcerated was not new to the juvenile justice system at this time, but what was new was the faith that incarceration in itself a good way solving the rising rates of crime. The Reagan legacy opened up the doors to drastic change in the juvenile justice system, such as: more adult like treatment of juveniles, making them more responsible/culpable for their actions, more frequent detentions handed out, seeing juveniles in adult court, and even the death penalty for juveniles. The new direction the juvenile court was taking is what shaped the issues and controversies we see in our juvenile court system today. The main controversy with the juvenile justice system today is the new belief in the rise in the adult like punishment to being applied to juvenile offenders. This new reform has brought adult like approaches to juvenile court such as, mandatory minimum sentencing, juvenile's cognitive capacity, do juveniles belong in adult court and adult prisons, and the death penalty for juveniles.

A main controversy facing juvenile justice is the amount of cognitive capacity juvenile's posses at certain ages. Measuring cognitive capacity of juveniles in general is or at least should be a major factor for determining what actions to take against juveniles. The juvenile court was founded on the belief that juveniles just don't posses the cognitive capacity to fully understand the repercussions of their actions. The juvenile court used to use all its resources to focus on how to rehabilitate juveniles, now all the court proceeding are to establish the legal guilt of a juvenile offender and a small percentage of the legal process establishing adequate punishment. Research on the brain over the last twenty years gives us more knowledge about how children develop and think. Until recently scientists believed the brain was fully developed by age 12. With brain imaging research we now know that this is not true(4 walker). The May 10, 2004 issue of Time Magazine discusses the development of the teen brain in great detail. Dr. Ruben Gur, a professor and director of the Brain Behavior Laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania states that impulse control is the last area of the brain to develop and the first to fail as we age(4 walker)....

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