November 5, 2011
The Juvenile Criminal Justice System
The statistics of juvenile crime are staggering: each year the juvenile justice system processes more than 2.5 million juvenile arrests each year and decides the fate of nearly 5,000 delinquent juveniles every day. This paper will cover the philosophies that shape the juvenile system and how it differs from the adult justice system. It will also touch upon the sanctions involved, the legal factors that are associated with sentencing and how the appeals process works (Chung, Little, Steinberg, & Altschuler, Feb.2005)
Historically, juvenile criminals were treated the same as adult criminals. It wasn’t until about a century ago that the philosophy behind the way that juveniles that violate criminal laws were treated differently from adult offenders. Punishment was the central criminal law philosophy in English common law. Most people presumed that children under the age of seven were not capable of forming criminal intent, thus eliminating them from the criminal justice system completely. Children between the ages of seven and 14 were also presumed incompetent to form the requisite criminal intent unless the prosecutor could demonstrate that the child knew the difference between right and wrong. Children over age 14 were presumed to have the capacity to form criminal intent (Patton, 2011).
During this time there were no special courts to deal with adolescent offenders. Because of this they were arrested, held in custody, tried, and imprisoned in the same jails that held adult offenders. Minors were also not given the same due process protections that the adult were given, for example the right to bail, indictment by a grand jury and the right to a public trial.
It was not until approximately 200 years ago that the first juvenile court system was established in 1899 in Cook County Illinois. These early juvenile... [continues]
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