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Juvenile justice refers to a criminal law which is applicable to persons who are not old enough to be charged for criminal acts. A number states consider the juvenile justice law applicable to only those individuals under 18 years of age. Intended to be separate from adult or criminal court, ideally, the law is governed through the juvenile justice codes of states with the key goal of rehabilitating and not punishing such children or adolescent of underage (Ramsey, 2016). The paper looks at the reasons why juvenile justice is separate from the normal adult system. The paper will also assess the processes and procedures of the juvenile justice system as well as the basic laws that govern the system.
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Why the juvenile justice system is separate from the adult criminal justice system
Juvenile justice system which was established within the United States, is separate from the adult criminal justice system because it was intended for diverting or protecting those youthful offenders from criminal courts punishments considered to be destructive in nature. The major aim was to promote rehabilitation in accordance with the individual juvenile’s needs. Being distinctive from adult or criminal court, therefore, the system was intended to look at the children or adolescent as an individual in really need of assistance, rather than the act that lead him or her to the court ((McCord, Wisdom & Crowell, 2001).
The structure, processes, and procedures of the juvenile justice system
Due to the various views about a juvenile crime epidemic particularly in the early 1990s influenced public scrutiny of this system’s ability to control and manage violent juvenile offenders in a more effective way, different states have had to adopt various legislative reforms as an effort to improve on juvenile crime. Therefore, the changes are basically focused on delinquency as well as offense matters specifically on the structure, processes, and procedures of the juvenile justice system (Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention-OJJDP, 2017).
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Since the judge was expected to act in the best interests of adolescent or child, following the procedural safeguards made available to protect the rights of adults, for instance, the rights to an attorney, to know the charges subjected against the offender, to trial by jury and to confront an individual’s accuser were considered unnecessary. Such proceedings were perceived to be informal, and thus much decisions left in the hands of the juvenile court judge. However, the juvenile records and court proceedings were kept confidential from the public to avoid any interferences against the effort directed towards encouraging child or adolescent’s rehabilitation as well as reintegration into society. In this case, the juvenile are no longer charged with crimes, instead investigated based on delinquencies nor found guilty but rather adjudicated on the basis of delinquency. The child or adolescents are not sent to prison, but taken for reformatory trainings (McCord, Wisdom & Crowell, 2001).
The basic laws governing the juvenile justice system
The basic laws that govern juvenile justice system, requires that offenders of below 18 years of age to join the system and not be charged under the adult criminal justice system. Although the many crimes committed may be seen to be the same, juvenile offenders are subjected to various and different laws and procedures compared to adults charged with crimes. There are laws that govern minors and the court procedures taken into consideration in the juvenile cases. The laws are based on the status crimes, differences between the juvenile and adult criminal proceedings, juvenile court processes as well as police questioning about minors. As much as they are typically criminal law, the juvenile crime law must deal with only under-age children or adolescents. These individuals have to be treated differently in their specific courts of law compared to adults charged in criminal law (Thomson, 2017).
It is notable that juvenile is provided through a juvenile court which is also referred to as family court. In cases where minors are considered as adults, it is clear that the juvenile court cannot have jurisdiction.The main goal for the juvenile justice system being separate from the adult criminal justice system, wasto look at the children or adolescent as an individual in really need of assistance and punish the underage person.
- McCord, J, Wisdom, S.C and Crowell, A.N (2001). Juvenile Crime, Juvenile Justice (2001): Chapter 5: The Juvenile Justice System. National Academies Press. Retrieved September 25, 2017 from <https://www.nap.edu/read/9747/chapter/7>
- Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention-OJJDP (2017). Juvenile Justice System Structure and Processes. Statistical Briefing Book, Office of Justice.
- Ramsey, D (2016). Juvenile Justice Law and Legal Definition. US Legal. Retrieved September 25, 2017 from, <https://definitions.uslegal.com/j/juvenile-justice/>
- Thomson, R. (2017). Juvenile Justice. Find Law. Retrieved September 25, 2017 from, <http://criminal.findlaw.com/juvenile-justice.html>