Crime and Juvenile Justice

1 January 2017

Throughout history the American juvenile justice system has changed focus in attempts to provide an efficient system. Additionally, these changes have influenced the concept of punishment by replacing it with different methods such as rehabilitation. According to the text, American Corrections by Todd R. Clear, George F. Cole, and Michael D. Reisig, the juvenile justice system is characterized by five time periods. The first time period is referred to as the Puritan Period.

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Between 1646 and 1824, misbehaved children who didn’t obey their parents would be considered evil and have to deal with the law. During the Refuge Period between 1824 and 1899, institutes were created to provide good work, study habits, and discipline to children. These refugee camps soon became to resemble adult prisons and portrayed little impact. By the end of the 1800’s reformers decided to find alternate ways to deal with children. In this case the first modern juvenile justice system was created.

The Juvenile Court Period took place between 1899 and 1960. During this time, the first juvenile court was established. According to the text, “decisions about the juvenile’s fate were linked less to guilt or innocence and more to the ‘best interests’ of the child” (Clear, Cole and Reisig, 2011, p. 474). The court was mostly based on informality, individualization, and intervention. In all this informal method was found to be ineffective because laws were imposed in ways that did not interest the children.

Additionally, the Juvenile Right Period between 1960 and 1980, a rally took place which convinced the United States Supreme Court to provide most of the due process rights to juveniles which also applied to adults. The Crime Control Period began in 1980 and is currently present. In theory, “the justice system treats juveniles differently from adults by placing less emphasis on punishment and individualized treatment” (Clear, Cole and Reisig, 2011, p. 476). The idea is that juveniles are different from adults.

On the other hand, the controversial issue regarding juvenile justice comes from the reality that many states have changed the focus of the juvenile justice system from rehabilitation to punishment and deterrence. According to the article, Not Kids anymore: A need for punishment and deterrence in the juvenile justice system by Christine Chamberlin, “although the current juvenile justice system in many states now closely resembles the adult criminal justice system, they remain two separate systems of justice, ounded on different philosophies” (Chamberlin, 2004). In other words, some believed that juvenile systems provide rehabilitation, and others don’t see the difference in the two separate systems. The reason this factor was taken in to consideration was because according to many scientists it was found that juvenile’s brains were not fully developed to reach the adult complexity. Additionally, their mental and physical factors were found to be different from those of an adult (Grisso; Schwartz, 2000).

Therefore, juveniles were viewed to be curable. Furthermore, throughout my courses as a criminal justice major I have learned that most criminals who are released in prisons almost always end up back in the prison for a different crime. It is arguable that the facility of prisons might in fact expose prisoners to extreme factors they may have not seen outside of the prisons, such as extreme violence, certain drugs, and gangs. In all, this doesn’t seem like an efficient method to provide guidance for prisoners.

Instead of being rehabilitated, they are exposed to all the extreme factors at once. Not only that, they seem to learn to become viler in the outer world because in prison they learn to be more cautious of their surroundings. Moreover, what I am trying to say is that most juveniles that commit extreme crimes, who are not exposed to drugs, and violence before hand of their crime, would probably not be well off in adult prisons.

According to the article, Should the Law Treat Kids and Adults Differently? by Time Magazine some people view harsh crimes as a deterrent for children who are thinking about committing crimes. Uniquely, the article states these opinions and disagrees, by implying that rehabilitation is the key for deterring crime.

The author argues that rehabilitation plays as a crime control/ and due process model by protecting society and protecting the “young adults life. It also outlines that children do not have the capacity to understand the process of being trialed. In my opinion, the child would not be able to obtain the same rights as an adult because their level of understanding would be different. The article also makes it clear, that children shouldn’t be exposed to weapons that cause them to commit crimes. Not to mention supervision is essential. In all, the parents and society play a crucial role in the juvenile decision to committing a crime.

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