The film follows a few of the many struggling to overcome a system many consider grossly unjust. So my challenge every day as a judge is to make this system work for people who are of color, who are not as educated and who are not as wealthy. One year he spent a whopping days in solitary confinement. Because the judge was to act in the best interests of the child, procedural safeguards available to adults, such as the right to an attorney, the right to know the charges brought against one, the right to trial by jury, and the right to confront one's accuser, were thought unnecessary.
Juvenile court proceedings were closed to the public and juvenile records were to remain confidential so as not to interfere with the child's or adolescent's ability to be rehabilitated and reintegrated into society. The very language used in juvenile court underscored these differences. Juveniles are not charged with crimes, but rather with delinquencies; they are not found guilty, but rather are adjudicated delinquent; they are not sent to prison, but to training school or reformatory.
In practice, there was always a tension between social welfare and social control—that is, focusing on the best interests of the individual child versus focusing on punishment, incapacitation, and protecting society from certain offenses. This tension has shifted over time and has varied significantly from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, and it remains today. Juvenile Crime, Juvenile Justice. This change in emphasis from a focus on rehabilitating the individual to punishing the act is exemplified by the 17 states that redefined the purpose clause of their juvenile courts to emphasize public safety, certainty of sanctions, and offender accountability Torbet and Szymanski, Inherent in this change in focus is the belief that the juvenile justice system is too soft on delinquents, who are thought to be potentially as much a threat to public safety as their adult criminal counterparts.
It is important to remember that the United States has at least 51 different juvenile justice systems, not one. Each state and the District of Columbia has its own laws that govern its juvenile justice system. How juvenile courts operate may vary from county to county and municipality to municipality within a state.
The federal government has jurisdiction over a small number of juveniles, such as those who commit crimes on Indian reservations or in national parks, and it has its own laws to govern juveniles within its system.
States that receive money under the federal Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act must meet certain requirements, such as not housing juveniles with adults in detention or incarceration facilities, but it is state law that governs the structure of juvenile courts and juvenile corrections facilities.
When this report refers to the juvenile justice system, it is referring to a generic framework that is more or less representative of what happens in any given state. Legal reforms and policy changes that have taken place under the get-tough rubric include more aggressive policing of juveniles, making it easier or in some cases mandatory to treat a juvenile who has committed certain offenses as an adult, moving decision making about where to try a juvenile from the judge to the prosecutor or the state legislature, changing sentencing options, and opening juvenile proceedings and records.
Changes in laws do not necessarily translate into changes in practice. In addition to the belief that at least some juvenile offenders are amenable to treatment and rehabilitation, other factors limit overreliance on get-tough measures: 1 the expense of incarceration, 2 overcrowding that results from sentencing offenders more harshly, and 3 research evidence that finds few gains, in terms of reduced rates of recidivism, from simply incapacitating youth without any attention to treatment or rehabilitation Beck and Shipley, ; Byrne and Kelly, ; Hagan, ; National Research Council, a; National Research Council, b; Shannon et al.
Practice may also move in ways not envisioned when laws are passed. Whereas the traditional juvenile justice model focuses attention on offender rehabilitation and the current get-tough changes focus on offense punishment, the restorative model focuses on balancing the needs of victims, offenders, and communities Bazemore and Umbreit, Tracking changes in practice is difficult, not only because of the differences in structure of the juvenile justice system among the states, but also because the information collected about case processing and about incarcerated juveniles differs from state to state, and because there are few national data.
Some states collect and publish a large amount of data on various aspects of the juvenile justice system, but for most states the data are not readily available. Although data are collected nationally on juvenile court case processing, 1 the courts are not required to submit data, so that national juvenile court statistics are derived from courts that cover only about two-thirds of the entire juvenile population Stahl et al.
Furthermore, there are no published national data on the number of juveniles convicted by offense, the number incarcerated by offense, sentence length, time served in confinement, or time served on parole Langan and Farrington, The center of the juvenile justice system is the juvenile or family court Moore and Wakeling, In fact, the term juvenile justice is often used synonymously with the juvenile court, but it also may refer to other affiliated institutions in addition to the court, including the police, prosecuting and defense attorneys, probation, juvenile detention centers, and juvenile correctional facilities Rosenheim, In this chapter, juvenile justice is used in the latter, larger sense.
After providing a brief historical background of the juvenile court and a description of stages in the juvenile justice system, we examine the various legal and policy changes that have taken place in recent years, the impact those changes have had on practice, and the result of the laws, policy, and practice on juveniles caught up in the juvenile justice system.
Throughout the chapter, differences by race and by gender in involvement in the juvenile justice system are noted. Chapter 6 examines in more detail the overrepresentation of minorities in the juvenile justice system.
Department of Justice, has collected and analyzed juvenile court statistics since Data on the latter three categories are not now collected nationally. Children under the age of 7 were presumed to be unable to form criminal intent and were therefore exempt from punishment. The establishment of special courts and incarceration facilities for juveniles was part of Progressive Era reforms, along with kindergarten, child labor laws, mandatory education, school lunches, and vocational education, that were aimed at enhancing optimal child development in the industrial city Schlossman, Reformers believed that treating children and adolescents as adult criminals was unnecessarily harsh and resulted in their corruption.
Based on the premise that children and young adolescents are developmentally different from adults and are therefore more amenable to rehabilitation, and that they are not criminally responsible for their actions, children and adolescents brought before the court were assumed to require the court's intervention and guidance, rather than solely punishment. They were not to be accused of specific crimes. The reason a juvenile came before the court—be it for committing an offense or because of abuse or neglect by his or her parents or for being uncontrollable—was less important than understanding the child's life situation and finding appropriate, individualized rehabilitative services Coalition for Juvenile Justice, ; Schlossman, Historians have noted that the establishment of the juvenile court not only diverted youngsters from the criminal court, but also expanded the net of social control over juveniles through the incorporation of status jurisdiction into states' juvenile codes e.
The act gave the court jurisdiction over neglected, dependent, and delinquent children under age The focus of the court was rehabilitation rather than punishment. Records of the court were to be confidential to minimize stigma. The act required separation of juveniles from adults when incarcerated and barred the detention of children under age 12 in jails. The act also provided for informality in procedures within the court.
The idea of the juvenile court spread rapidly. More than half reported seeing violence in their neighborhood on a weekly basis. The survey also found high levels of abuse, especially among girls. Around 47 percent reported being physically abused, including nearly 80 percent of girls, while 20 percent reported being sexually abused, including 77 percent of girls. Most of those sentenced to life without parole for juvenile crimes were charged in homicide-related crimes.
Many committed the killing themselves. The data , collected in , showed that life without parole sentences were disproportionately imposed on black juveniles, even when compared to rates of arrest. While three percent of white juveniles arrested for murder were sentenced to life without parole, five percent of black juveniles were locked away for life. The Phillips Black report noted the stark racial disparities in some states in particular, noting that while the population of the state of Texas was And then it has to do with implicit bias among prosecutors, among juries, among even defense attorneys and judges that are making these decisions.
Five states — California, Florida, Pennsylvania, Louisiana and Michigan — are responsible for nearly two-thirds of all life without parole sentences for juveniles, according to the Phillips Black report.The Act provided federal leadership in the reform of the treatment of status offenses and nonoffenders. Petersburg of their encounters with juveniles being police-initiated. Observers recorded more than 7, encounters involving approximately 12, citizens. Furthermore, the court treated children who had committed no crime the same as those who had committed a criminal act.
Most of those sentenced to life without parole for juvenile crimes were charged in homicide-related crimes. Legal reforms and policy changes that have taken place under the get-tough rubric include more aggressive policing of juveniles, making it easier or in some cases mandatory to treat a juvenile who has committed certain offenses as an adult, moving decision making about where to try a juvenile from the judge to the prosecutor or the state legislature, changing sentencing options, and opening juvenile proceedings and records. Data were gathered during summer in Indianapolis and summer in St. Reformers believed that treating children and adolescents as adult criminals was unnecessarily harsh and resulted in their corruption.
Sight and sound separation of juveniles and adults in detention and correctional facilities and removal of juveniles from adult jails and lockups were mandated. For example, a study by Greenwood et al.
In the study, half of the encounters with juveniles were initiated by the police. Like most in his facility, he was put on strong medication to keep him calm and thrown back in solitary. In so doing, the Court recognized juvenile court proceedings as criminal proceedings, not social welfare ones Feld, Therefore, Schneider asserted, they were still coming to the court at the same rate, but as delinquents rather than status cases. The existence of a juvenile curfew in Indianapolis gave police in that city authority to stop juveniles after hours and contributed to a high percentage 61 compared with 37 percent in St. Lawmakers latched onto the theory, resulting in tough-on-crime policies for juveniles across the country.
Observers recorded more than 7, encounters involving approximately 12, citizens.
Most of these contacts are undocumented and of low visibility Goldstein, ; only a fraction reach the attention of juvenile court judges or youth detention authorities. In Breed v.
They were not to be accused of specific crimes.