Juvenile System Abolished or Not

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Robert Harrison
Criminal Justice FALB10 Sec A
Prof. Cory Robbins

The question of whether we should have continued use of a separate juvenile justice system or should we abolish it is a huge debate in the U.S. Is the separate, juvenile justice system still feasible? If not, what can replace it? Policymakers need to confront these questions, and they need innovative answers. New policies should aim for more than simply abolishing the juvenile court's delinquency jurisdiction and sending all young offenders to conventional criminal courts.

The focus of the juvenile justice system is to rehabilitate juveniles, rather than to imprison and punish them. Many states, such as Massachusetts, have special courts set aside to try juveniles. Others, such as Colorado, have courts that deal with juvenile cases in addition to regular ones. In many states, such as Massachusetts, juveniles, upon arraignment, enter a plea of "delinquent" or "not delinquent", rather than "guilty" or "not guilty." The purpose of this is to establish that they are different from a regular criminal. Unlike normal proceedings, which are almost always open to the public, juvenile courts are usually closed to the public. Juvenile records are often sealed (made so that they cannot be seen), and are sometimes even cleared when the juvenile reaches a certain age (usually eighteen or twenty-one). In Massachusetts, all court records, including juvenile court records, exist forever. Sealing or expunging a juvenile court record in Massachusetts does nothing. The record is still available to law enforcement agencies and the courts. It is common practice (and in some places even a law) for the news media to not report the name of any minor involved in criminal proceedings. Juvenile court cases are usually decided upon by a judge, rather than by a jury. The juvenile prison system works under the same philosophy as the rest of the justice system, focusing more on rewarding good behavior, rather than...
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