Juvenile offenders are categorized into two; juvenile delinquents and status offenders. Although both cases comprise of offences committed by minors, the mode of punishment is different. But there are cases where status offenders may receive the same kind of punishment as that for juvenile offenders. One common factor is that most of the minors who usually commit these offences come from broken homes or have had troubled childhoods.
Juvenile delinquents are minors who commit offences that are a violation of the law at any age such as murder, rape, and robbery with violence. The minors are tried in court like adults and most of the times are incarcerated depending on the nature of the offence. Unlike adult criminal proceedings, juvenile court hearings are often private and records kept confidential. This is to protect the children being haunted by their crimes into their adult life. Despite being tried in court, the justice system still prefers rehabilitation as opposed to incarceration (Juvenile law center, n.d.).
Status offenders however commit offences that would not be viewed as crimes, if committed by an adult. These include truancy, running away from home, and underage drinking. These offences are usually punishable by rehabilitative measures or probation as opposed to detention. In 1974 congress passed Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA). This act prohibits the detention of status offenders. However in 1980 an amendment was made which states that a status offender would be detained if they were in violation of a court order. An example is a case where a minor is ordered by the court not to skip school but yet goes ahead and does it (Waugh et al. n.d.).
In both types of juvenile offenders, the juveniles face a form of punishment for their actions. However alternative sentences should also be considered as opposed to incarceration for the case of juvenile offenders. The juvenile system should also consider whether it is really necessary to detain status offenders.
Juvenile law center, n.d. Youth in the Justice system. Web. 20 Apr. 2015
Waugh et al., n.d. Status Offenses and the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act: The Exception that Swallowed the Rule. Seattle University School of Law. Web 20 Apr. 2015