criminology

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The criminal justice system and Juvenile delinquents

Juvenile delinquents are very difficult to make sense of their actions. Everyone always has reason to do something either good or bad and it’s up to us to take responsibility for our actions. All around the world, children as young as 10 years old are involved in crimes such as murder, rape, robbery, burglary and larceny. Juvenile delinquents are able to repeat their crimes or commit crimes because they are taken lightly and not punished enough so that they know that what they are doing is wrong. Some people may argue that juvenile delinquents are still young so that they don’t know what is right from wrong but I think they are smarter than we think. Juvenile delinquents are just like any other normal young adult, but their actions are that of adults. Juvenile delinquents should be tried and punished according the crime they committed, because no matter how old they are, a crime is still a crime.

Younger delinquents have a higher chance of re-offending simply because they are eligible for recommitment until age 18. “88.9% of adolescents with low levels of restraint and high levels of distress were rearrested during follow up. The delinquents with high restraint committed fewer but more serious crimes.” (Parker, Morton, Lingefelt, Johnson). Juveniles often repeat their crimes because they know that they will not be punished severely because they have experienced it before. Delinquents who go on to commit serious or violent offenses in the future will have previously committed more serious or violent offenses.

Since the juvenile court was started more than a hundred years ago, a basic assumption underlying the juvenile court has been that juvenile offenders shouldn't go through the adult criminal courts. The juvenile court was created to handle juvenile offenders on the basis of their youth rather than their crimes. The purpose of juvenile court is treatment and guidance rather than punishment. During the 1980s and 1990s, the public called for getting tough with juveniles and trying them as adults. Many states passed laws making it easier to try certain youthful offenders as adults; some states considered the radical proposal of abolishing juvenile courts. Although this is very logical and true, some crimes are just too severe to ignore.

Many people think that the juvenile system should be abolished because it is faulty. It is founded on false premises because its purpose is to shield youths from the consequences of their own actions. The juvenile court also fails to deter juvenile violence and the number of juvenile offenders keeps rising dramatically. “Abolitionists argue that because the current juvenile justice system is not achieving its original goals and the recent reforms have made it resemble the adult system, the juvenile system should be abolished in favor of one unified system.”(Ryder). If juveniles are tried in adult courts; they will be afforded their full range of constitutional rights. Some think that abolishing the juvenile system will only make matters worse. They argue that since children have not fully matured, they shouldn’t be held to the same standards of accountability as adults. Changing the social environment in which juveniles live is a more effective way to reduce juvenile violence than punishing juvenile offenders in adult courts.

“The initial causes of much juvenile crime are found in the early learning experiences in the family.” (Spaulding 7). They involve weak family bonding and ineffective supervision, child abuse and neglect, and inconsistent and harsh discipline. In addition, there are indications that very poor urban communities put youths at greater risk for involvement in violence. Some neighborhoods also provide special opportunities for learning or participating in violence. The presence of gangs and illegal drug markets provides exposure to violence, negative role models, and possible rewards for youthful involvement in violent criminal activities. Schools also play a part in generating juvenile violence. An important cause of the onset of serious violent behavior is involvement in a delinquent peer group. Alcohol and guns are also implicated in violent behavior by juveniles. In addition, growing up in poverty and unemployment has major effects on the likelihood that a young person will turn to violence during the transition to adulthood.

Although the current juvenile justice system in many states now closely resembles the adult criminal justice system, they remain two separate systems of justice, founded on different philosophies. Generally speaking, while the adult criminal justice system emphasizes the punishment of criminals, the juvenile justice system is based on the rehabilitation of juvenile offenders. All around the world, crimes are committed by a whole range of people, from juveniles to adults. Juvenile delinquents reserve more than half of crimes committed only because they are not punished severely enough. Many juvenile delinquents roam around free without feeling any remorse. We may not see or feel that they have any effect to our lives until something happens to us or a loved one. We become so preoccupied with our everyday lives that we ignore what’s happening around us.


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