The History, Recidivism Rates, and What Works |
Corrections - SPEA J331Dr. Robert Ramsey|
Definition of Juvenile Corrections
Juvenile corrections encompasses the portions of the criminal justice system that deal with juvenile offenders. Many of these facilities and programs seem to mirror jails and prisons, but juvenile corrections are not meant for long term sentences. Sometimes sentences for juveniles are only several weeks long. Juvenile corrections also have a strong focus on rehabilitation because studies have shown that juvenile offenders are more prone to rehabilitation than adult offenders. These programs and services were aimed to help to teach these youthful offenders how to better deal with situations and how to avoid entering the into the criminal justice system again. (wisegeek)
The judges who handle these juvenile cases specialize in working with juvenile offenders and their crimes. Others who specialize in juvenile crime are a part of the juvenile corrections system as well. This includes social workers, probation officers, as well as others. Their aim is usually not to punish the juveniles alone, but to use the punishment as a way to rehabilitate them as well. (USLegal) Historical Background of Juvenile Corrections
The origins of juvenile corrections are not entirely clear. Juvenile and adult offenders have been treated differently for some time, but what ages are considered to be juvenile has changed over time. The United States’ perspective on juvenile ages and law was greatly influenced by English law. In the 1700s, William Blackstone, an English lawyer, published his Commentaries on the Laws of England, where he identified that young persons are incapable of committing crime. Generally, anyone under of the age of seven was incapable of committing crime. Any child over the age of 14 was able to be tried as an adult. Children between the ages of 7 and 14 are a gray area, but were generally not held accountable for their actions unless it could be shown that they knew what was right or wrong. Punishments for being found guilty of crime included the death penalty, even for juvenile offenders. (ABA, 2011)
The juvenile corrections system began to change and be reformed in the nineteenth century. “Social reformers began to create special facilities to rehabilitate troubled juveniles, especially in large cities”, (ABA, 2011, p 5). These reformers stated that they wanted to protect these juvenile offenders by keeping them separate from the adult populations because they were better able to be rehabilitated. The first court system for juveniles in the United States started in 1899 in Illinois. These courts also aimed to rehabilitate the juvenile offenders. They had juvenile court systems in most states by 1824. The courts became the “guardians” of the juvenile offenders, or their “parens patriae”. These court proceedings were considered to be civil matters and not considered to be criminal matters. Their basic focus was on rehabilitating the juvenile offenders. (ABA, 2011)
The juvenile courts changed again in the 1960s and 1970s. In 1967, the case of Gerald in In re Gault, the Supreme Court granted many juveniles some, but not all, due process rights in the course of their court proceedings. This included the right to be notified of their pending charges, the right to have an attorney, the right to protect themselves against self-incrimination, and the rights to confront and cross-examine their witnesses. Three years later, in In re Winship, the Court also established that the accused must be proven guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt”. In 1971, in McKeiver v. Pennsylvania, the Courts ruled that juries are not required for juvenile proceedings. In most cases, the judge in charge of the juvenile corrections department will hear the case, judge the offender, and sentence the offender. (ABA, 2011)...