Prior to the establishment of the modern juvenile justice system, children could be made to stand trial in criminal court for crimes committed, and if found culpable, they could be sentenced as an adult would be sentenced for similar crimes, with sentences resulting in prison time or even death.
The juvenile justice system was developed in a large part due to the developing belief that youth offenders were incapable of criminal intent and should not be held to the same criminal standard adult offenders are. Therefore, it was considered appropriate to exempt juvenile offenders that were considered incapable of intent to commit a criminal act from prosecution and punishment.
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Unfortunately, for various reasons the juvenile justice system has recently begun to regress to a system that goes against the entire core values that led to its creation. As a result of Kent v. United States 1966, In re Gault 1967 and In re Winship the juvenile justice system has regressed into a system that has began to resemble the adult criminal justice system with lawyers, prosecutors, and judges. The focus has once again shifted back to the way it was prior to juvenile justice reform. The system has trended to focusing on offenses, and not the offenders, to punishment, or retribution and not rehabilitation.
My question is? Did juvenile offenders suddenly develop the capability of having criminal intent, or develop higher moral and cognitive capacities at a younger age than previous generations. The capabilities which limited their ability to be held criminally responsible for the crimes that they committed before are now going to be considered sufficient enough for them to stand trial in an adult criminal court.
The erosion of the core values of the juvenile justice system, and new legislation has morphed the juvenile system into one that closely resembles its adult counterpart. In most cases the only differences between the adult criminal court and the juvenile justice system is the terminology used in the system. A push for “abolishing” the juvenile justice system has resulted from a perceived failure by the juvenile justice system in its rehabilitation efforts and in the perception that the juvenile justice system was too lenient in punishing serious criminal behavior by young people. As America gets tougher on what they perceive as “violent juveniles” the line that separates the juvenile court and the adult court is further blurred.
I demand that legislators and lawmakers develop some empirical evidence that abolishing the juvenile court would result in a better justice system. Do tougher policies on juvenile crimes actually harm or hurt the probability that a juvenile will desist from criminal activity and not fall into a life course of crime. The impact that abolishing the juvenile justice system would have on youth could possibly be negative with fewer chances for rehabilitation and exposure to older, wiser, more influential adult career criminals. Furthermore, would you send a juvenile to adult court in order to correct status offenses such as skipping school, unruly behavior, or curfew violations?
American society, has somewhere along the line,...