Juvenile Delinquency and the Juvenile Justice System
Juveniles are represented either in the legal system through the juvenile family court designed for children many years ago or by the criminal court system meant for adults. The criminal court system is opted for children suspected of committing serious crimes although transfer is possible from juvenile justice system into adult court system. This legal system has been the source of problems for all children suspects.
Minors are immature and lack powers to resist immorality. Because of underdeveloped manners, they often fall in temptation and attraction to criminal activity. Juvenile delinquency is on the rise globally, and this has subjected them to legal action. Research suggests that, every minor gets involved in delinquency, but the law catches up with a few. While legislation does not condone delinquency, many questions are coming up. Psychologists argue that delinquency is a reaction from the youth crying foul of neglect, and taking the juveniles through a legal system will only make matters worse. Juveniles are being involved in robberies, prostitution, and general criminal activities (John & Jiangmin, 2002).
All this juvenile delinquencies have an origin. Moral disintegration of the family is the root cause of delinquency. When the family has relationship problems, arising from the parents everything goes loose, that is why kids are all over the streets begging for money and even stealing. The parent-child relationship is build when the relationship between the parents is stable. A constantly fighting couple will only make the kids want to run to the streets. Parents are supposed to mold the kids, when this fails, the environment does, and the environment molds them using the hardest way. When parents cannot provide, the kids are to fend for themselves, they can only do so by stealing or engaging in prostitution (Dembo, Williams, Wish, Getereu, Washburn & Scmeidler, 1990).
Young people are becoming independent at an early age. They are earning money that they use to their pleasure; misuse their freedom and independence so much that they cannot control their waywardness. All this delinquencies prove that society has failed in a way or another. Society is supposed to influence the moral upbringing of children by caring for them, helping, and supporting them. If children feel neglected, they will isolate themselves, and it all starts from there. Improvement of social conditions is a good start in fighting delinquency.
The juvenile court is a recent invention whose code first appeared in 1899, before this time juvenile delinquencies fell in the adult legal system in. The age at which a child was criminally responsible was low, and whenever a charge presented in court it was always against the child. The state would determine what to do if a child was criminally responsible. The child either got criminal punishment or helped by the state through rehabilitation. In the 19th century, invention of adolescence came with age grading responsibilities. There emerged a separation between youths and adults, subsequently social and legal structures emerged with state and youth interests at aim (Gary, John, Norman, & Christopher, 2007, p. 466-468).
The juvenile court was one of the legal structures formed. Its aim was rehabilitating the youth, and so juveniles avoided punishment. Key actors in juvenile courts included social workers, mental health professionals, and probation officers. In the late 1950, the rehabilitative ideal fell in the juvenile courts. The social facts, which the courts based their ruling on, lacked proper grounds. These fundamental facts lacked empirical tests and the bill of rights had the same definition for children and adults. The juvenile court failed in rehabitating the youth offenders (Gary, John, Norman, & Christopher, 2007, p. 466-468).
The juvenile system of justice is an important in molding a delinquent juvenile. The therapy offered in the juvenile system addresses the unique needs of juveniles, which is never, met in the adult legal systems of justice. The early therapeutic state was paternalistic, and some legislators argued that it condoned juvenile delinquency leading to prevalence of serious juvenile crimes. However, it is high time there is reconciliation in the juvenile court to fulfill its therapeutic mission in rehabilitation of the youth, and their delinquencies to fit in society once again. Punishing them at an early age only makes them prevalent to crime in the future.
Assessment of juveniles in the juvenile system is a complicated task. Juveniles have many problems, in addition to drugs and substance, abuse including physical or sexual abuse, gang related violence and family difficulties. Psychological problems and living in neighborhoods struck with economic hardship are among problems that lead juveniles to delinquency. Most of juveniles in crime come from poor families revealing that poverty has also contributed to delinquency. At the period of evaluation, results show that juveniles involved in crime perform poorly in school and these makes them hopeless, desperate, and hide in crime for self-glory (John & Jiangmin, 2002).
All these problems correlated and their development was undetected by the juvenile staff. The problems pose a challenge to the staff attending to juveniles because the problems have been there for long and become severe. Some of these problems cause psychological problems, for example, drug abuse and family problems involving placement fostering, parental neglect and bad mother adolescent relationship. That is why some juveniles find it hard to abandon some delinquent behaviors. So long as these problems are unsolved or controlled, the juveniles continue with criminal activities even after they are out of the juvenile justice system. The goal of the system becomes hard to accomplish (Henggeler, Rodick, Borduin, Hanson, Watson & Urey, 1986).
Evaluation of the type of delinquencies focuses on behaviors that preceded the juvenile's current involvement in the juvenile justice system, excluding the delinquent behavior that made them arrested. The juveniles are on daily routines that intervene in the juvenile's lives to prevent further delinquency once they are out of the juvenile justice system (Henggeler et al., 1986). Evaluations start at the point of contact between the minor, and the juvenile justice system, and repeated at different stages in order to determine physical, emotional, and environmental changes to identify the needs of juveniles to reduce delinquency.
After adjudication, the court holds a hearing to determine the appropriate sanction on the juvenile. This is sentencing in the adult criminal court system. Disposition determines what the sanction the court will have on the juvenile (Hecker & Steinberg, 2002). It comes after assessment on the delinquent juvenile is done, assessment of the crimes committed. The juvenile justice system approves the court, after, evaluation to administer the most effective disposition, for the best of the state, juvenile and the public.
Evaluation of the juvenile's file tops the list. On the list of evaluation, the juvenile's intellect, vocational and academic skills follow suit. Personality evaluation is important in a justice system to determine the responsive ability of a juvenile in case a question arises in court a proceeding. Recommendation for a juvenile's family is necessary to assess whether the delinquent behavior has root in the family. Evaluation of the juvenile's neighborhood, community and any other third party adds up to determine the origin of delinquency.
A result of the psychological evaluation reaches the judge or any relevant person in the court proceeding, in report form. However, if the report has recommendations from the psychologist, they do not have a considerable impact on the result of the disposition (Hecker & Steinberg, 2002). The fact that the psychologist's recommendations, if any, do not affect the ruling in any way, leaves room for a debate. However, Psychologist's through their research can predict the judge's ruling on a sanction. After all the evaluation, the court opines the best disposition for every case committed by a juvenile. Disposition is categorized into incarceration, and non-incarceration. Incarceration involves probation, and it is the commonly offered sentencing to delinquent juveniles. Non-incarceration involves confinement viewed from a different perspective for juveniles. It includes juvenile detention, home arrest, and placement with someone other than the parent or guardian, are few of the disposition methods imposed on delinquent juveniles (Hecker & Steinberg, 2002).
Within a period of not less than thirty days, a juvenile undergoes a competency evaluation to ascertain whether the juvenile can handle a trial. If the juvenile is not mentally ill, intellectually disabled, and not lacking mental capacity, the court goes on with a trial. The evaluator, after clarifying that the evaluation report is correct, informs all parties involved and the court considers the report to make its final verdict on the juvenile. However, although the report is evidence for evaluation of the juvenile, the court can observe the juveniles conduct in the courtroom and otherwise rule on that evidence.
Parental evaluation recommended for the parents to identify psychological state, habits, and their relationship with their children. In this case, the parent of the child placed under the juvenile justice system, and the child are in for evaluation. Such an evaluation aims at verifying whether the parent is in any way involved for delinquency in their children (Beverly,…