Juvenile Delinquency and Juvenile CrimeCJA/204Kelly Mckeown-MoffatMay 5, 2013Instructor: James Smith
Juvenile Delinquency and Juvenile CrimeWhat is Juvenile delinquency? What is a status offense? These questions will beanswered in this article along with what are the differences between juvenile and criminal courts.Can juveniles learn a life lesson by being tried as an adult? Some say yes and others say no. thisarticle is going to touch on key points on juvenile crime and delinquency. By the end of thispaper you will be more informed on the following questions and have a better understanding ofthe juvenile court systems.Juvenile DelinquencyJuvenile delinquency is a conduct by a juvenile that is characterized by antisocialbehavior that is beyond parental control and therefore subject to legal action. It is also a violationof the law committed by a juvenile and not punishable by death or life imprisonment. In short, itis conduct that is out of accord with accepted behavior or the law.Status OffensesStatus offenses are activities that are deemed offenses when committed by juvenilesbecause of their age at the time of the activity. In short, these offenses are not illegal if done byan adult. Some examples of status offenses would include breaking curfew laws, not attendingschool, possession or consumption of alcohol and running away from home. The basis for statusoffenses stems from the legal theory of parens patriae, in that status offenses are harmful tominors and the courts need to protect minors from such activities.Differences between adult and juvenile courts
There are many differences that exist between the adult and juvenile court systems. At itscore, the adult court system focuses on deterrence and justice as the rationale for prosecutingoffenders whereas the juvenile system commits to rehabilitating delinquent youths intoupstanding citizens. Every aspect of the courts revolves around these philosophies, from thewords used to label suspects to the terms of parole agreements. Both adult and juvenile courtsprotect the public and enforce laws, meaning that the overarching procedures remain the same.ProcessingThough the terminology may be different, the processing delinquents, and criminalsuspects remains the same. Both systems require Mirandize of suspects upon being arrested.They both receive the opportunity to admit to the charges, typically for a lesser punishment. Inthe criminal courts, this is called a plea bargain, while in the juvenile courts this is referred to asmodifying the petition. Both court systems can decide whether to hold the suspect in custodyuntil the trial. In criminal courts, a defendant may have the opportunity to pay bail while in thejuvenile system; a judge determines whether or not the suspected delinquent should be held forhis own safety and that of the public.TrialTrials are always a fact- finding process. Criminal trials usually revolve around thepresentation of evidence to a jury that will decide whether or not the suspect is guilty of thecrime. Some state also uses jury systems in juvenile courts although no federal requirementexists to do so. When a jury is not present, the judge presiding over the proceedings will makethe decision to whether or not the juvenile is delinquent.
Both systems also allow delinquents and convicted criminals to appeal the verdict basedon either factual evidence that was not presented at the trial or procedural violations during thecourse of the trial.Sentencing and IncarcerationOnce the defendant has been found guilty, the courts determine an appropriatepunishment. In adult courts, this decision may be conducted through a sentencing hearing or maybe based on state or federal sentencing guidelines for the offenses in question. In the juvenilecourts, a disposition hearing is conducted following the adjudication process. In both the juvenileand criminal court systems, judges have some leeway to determine a proper sentence, thoughjuvenile judges have far more latitude. Criminal judges work within state mandated guidelinesand can use special circumstances of the defendant’s crime to increase or decrease a sentence.Juvenile judges, on the other hand, have a broad range of options from immediate parole toplacing delinquents in juvenile facilities or county jails.ParoleEventually, most criminals or delinquents will be released back into the public. In somecases the defendant will have served their entire sentence and be released without conditions.Today it is more likely that a defendant or delinquent will be paroled on condition that thedefendant abides by court mandated conditions.Today, the courts rely on a variety of methods and conditions to monitor parolees. Thecourts can require electronic bracelets, regular phone calls with parole officers or social workers,requirements to get and maintain a job or attend school regularly. In either system, parole
determines whether the individual is capable of being a law-abiding citizen or if he/she shouldreturn to detention.Treating children like adultsTwo assumptions that legislation passed in many of the U.S. states, which make it easierto try juvenile offenders as adults.*Young offenders will receive sentences in the adult criminal system, which is harsherand more proportional to his/her crimes.*The threat of this harsher punishment will result in lowered juvenile crime rates.Although there has not been extensive research into the deterrent effects of the stricterlaws, the evidence that does exist indicates that deterrent effects are minimal or nonexistent, andthat in fact, trying juveniles in criminal court may result in higher rates of reoffending.Tried as an adultThere is no extensive research comparing the lengths of prison sentences received byjuveniles convicted in criminal court with those who remained in the juvenile system. Whatresearch exists indicates that juveniles convicted in criminal court, particularly serious andviolent offenders are more likely to be incarcerated and receive longer sentences than juvenilesretained in the juvenile system. Despite this, however; they often serve only a fraction of thesentences imposed in many cases less time than they would have served in a juvenile facility.Help reduce crime
To date, only two studies have examined if stricter transfer laws result in loweredjuvenile crime rates. Both found that there was no evidence to support that the laws had theintended effect.Adult penalties vs. juvenile penaltiesTwo recent studies indicate that juveniles who receive harsher penalties when tried asadults are not scared straight. In fact, after their release, they usually reoffend sooner and moreoften than those who were treated in the juvenile system. “The findings suggest that transfermade little differences in deterring youths from reoffending. Adult processing of youths incriminal courts actually increase recidivism rather than [having] any incapacitative effects oncrime control and community protection” (Frontline, 1993-2013).As this article explained, juvenile delinquents are not afraid of the repercussions ofcommitting a crime that would put them in an adult court system. Ways that the governmentthought would scare the juvenile delinquents from not reoffending are not working so thereforewe need to find new ways to help lower our juvenile delinquent rate to a lower factor instead ofit increasing. In some ways juvenile courts are stricter than adult court systems when it pertainsto juvenile delinquents. We as a nation need find new and better ways to help our children frombecoming a juvenile delinquent so therefore we do not have to worry about what will be betterfor our children, juvenile court or criminal court.
ReferencesDonna M. Bishop and others, “The Transfer of Juveniles to Criminal Court: Does it Make aDifference?”, Crime and Delinquency, vol. 42 (1996).Frontline. WGBH educational foundation. (1995-2013). Juvenile Justice. Retrieved from:http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/juvenile/stats/kidslikeadults.htmlMerriam-Webster dictionary. (2013) definition of Juvenile Delinquency. Retrieved from:http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/juvenile%20delinquencySpencer, J. (1999-2013). eHow. Similarities between Adult Court & Juvenile Court. RetrievedFrom: http://www.ehow.com/info_7899418_similarities-adult-court-juvenile-court.html