Change Within The Juvenile Justice System:
The History & Review of the Juvenile Justice System
Jerod H. Richardson
Survey of Law and Criminal Procedure
Professor David Horiuchi
Change Within America's Juvenile Justice System
One of the hardest decisions that judges have to make is sentencing a juvenile to be tried as an adult. With the increase in violent crimes in America today, juveniles are often found in the front line of media for violent crimes. Within society as a whole, those who are under the age of 18 years old do not function as adults, which is why the law protects children from the consequences of their actions. With the harshness and severity of crimes committed by juveniles today, there seems to be an imbalance to the juvenile justice system, and punishment is often at the top for debate in what course of action should be taken. The juvenile justice system remains a difficult issue that the Supreme Court has faced since the 1980's. In this essay, the history, social, and legal implications of trying juveniles as adults will be discussed.
The history of the juvenile justice system can be traced all the way back to the eighteenth century to English common law. According to common law, any child that was under the age of seven years old was not capable of committing a crime due to the fact that a child would not know the difference between right and wrong, therefore, was not capable of being charged with a crime. Any child over the age of fourteen years old that was accused of a crime during English common law was tried and prosecuted within the adult courts, and if they were found guilty, they were to be sentenced to an adult prison. Additionally, depending on the severity of the crime, juveniles were even sentenced to death (Scheb II, 2014). Throughout the nineteenth century, juveniles started to become the center of attention, and public protestors started to dispute that juveniles should not be treated as adults (Wilkerson, 2014). Among some of the protestors were Thomas Eddy and John Griscom, who organized the Society for the Prevention of Juvenile Delinquency in 1824. Eddy and Griscom advocated the separation of juveniles and adult offenders and expressed the importance of creating institutions for juveniles. Soon, juvenile facilities around the United States were established, which most states took on the responsibility of operating separate work farms and reform schools for convicted juveniles. Reform schools would later become known as Youth Corrections Institutions. One of the juvenile facilitates that was established is the New-York House of Refuge, which was founded in 1825 and is the first reformatory school for juveniles in the nation. The New-York House of refuge was considered to be the first movement of the Juvenile Justice System. As a result of the juvenile justice movement, Cook County, Chicago, Illinois was the first state that passed and legislated the Juvenile Court Act of 1899. This established the first separation of juvenile and adult courts ("Juvenile Justice," 2014). Illinois legislation of the Juvenile Court Act spread quickly throughout the United States, and by 1910, over 32 states legislated this act. By 1945, the juvenile court legislation was enacted by congress to be expanded to all state legislatures. The Criminal Justice Act of 1899 was established based on two valuable principles. The first principle was that juveniles lacked maturity to take full responsibility of their actions as adults can. The second principle was that because of juveniles' character not being fully developed, they could be rehabilitated (Shepherd, 1999). Over 115 years later, these two principles of juvenile courts continue to remain the guidelines of the juveniles justice system within the United States.
During the late 1980's through the mid 1990's, the social and political views of...
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