Juvenile Justice Subsystems
The Police Subsystem
The role of the police is to enforce the law and maintain order in the community. In 2000, there were approximately 18,000 police agencies employing more than one million full-time sworn and non-sworn personnel. They are intimately involved in juvenile justice issues, they mostly operate locally, and are thus in close proximity to towns and neighborhoods. For juvenile offenders and victims, local police are often their first contact with juvenile justice authorities. The reason for this is simply stated: Juvenile offenders who break the law are frequently taken to the police as a first option, or the police may apprehend them while observing them committing an offense. Youths who have been victimized or whose welfare is at risk are likewise referred to police custody—for their own protection. The Judicial Subsystem
The judicial component of the juvenile justice system is composed of many of the same personnel as found in the adult system. These include judges, administrators, prosecutors, and defense counsel. It is a civil (rather than criminal) system, so there is also a significant amount of participation by social workers, probation officers, case managers, and other professionals whose primary duty is to inform and advise the court on the status of each juvenile. The Corrections Subsystem
Juvenile correctional institutions are regulated under state law and must comply with state and federal mandates for the humane treatment of youths who have been consigned to locked or other residential facilities. The underlying mission of juvenile corrections is to treat and rehabilitate youths. Although many facilities are highly restrictive, and confinement conditions can approximate those found in some adult facilities, it is the duty of this subsystem to “correct” the behavior of offenders.