Juvenile justice system encompasses the whole system of agencies charged with the resolution of the conduct of juveniles in relation to the law. Juveniles herein refer to the age groups between ages eight to seventeen. The law imposes the age of the majority at eighteen years, and as such, it marks the exit age from the juvenile category. Criminal law takes a punitive and deterrent course for adults but departs substantially while addressing juvenile matters. The future of the juvenile justice system ought to be contemplated in terms of the societal developments especially in this era of information.
Future of the juvenile system
The American judicial system approaches juvenile matters differently. This is in appreciation of the age difference between juveniles and adults. However, the system ought to incorporate a number of measures that would effectively address societal issues. For starters, it should be appreciated that the role of the parent or the immediate guardian in preventing juvenile crime must be strengthened. If juvenile crime is to be lowered, the guardians ought to play an integral role in educating their children on the need to observe the spirit and the letter of the law. The children should be counseled regularly and enlightened on the essentials of conformity to the law. This should form one limb of the juvenile justice system in the future.
In addition, the nature of dispositions provided by the judicial systems should be effectively exhausted. The practice currently allows the judicial officer, in many cases, the judge, to exercise discretion in giving the disposition. The two common dispositions include probation and confinement to the Juvenile Corrections Department. These two solutions are often pursued in appreciation of the circumstances involved in the respective cases.
The law imposes the onus on the judicial officer to execute his discretion with utmost consideration of the law. However, with the proliferation of cases on juveniles and the tough economic times, exercising discretion has not been as easy. In the future, it remains advisable that clear legislation is set to limit the discretion availed to the judges. The legislature essentially suffices to formulate the law. In that light, they should step up to the societal expectations; they should set laws that would effectively address the discretional loopholes availed in the current pieces of law. In addition, the role of probation must be effectively strengthened. Probation must be set to work in tandem with the rubrics of the law. This improvement would facilitate the deliberate intention that informs the judicial officer’s decision to offer probation as the main disposition. In addition, the juvenile systems ought to tailor their programs at the Department of Juvenile Corrections to be in consonance to current societal developments. Correctional programs in the future should be tailored towards not only rehabilitating the confined juveniles; it should also equip the confines with the necessary knowledge to become useful in society. While this is the approach that has been pursued since time immemorial, it ought to be noted that with the globalization, there is a need to reconstruct the systems.
The juvenile system has incorporated the services of the police, the office of the prosecutor, judicial officers and the Department of Correctional services. However, the agencies ought to work cohesively and harmoniously in order to achieve the objects as enshrined in the law. In satisfaction of that requirement, the harmonization process needs to be fast tracked so as to enable cohesion. This should be achieved through training and orientation of officers from the respective agencies. The harmonization should also be pursued with the involvement of the legislative organs. This is because the latter would bring on board the necessary technical knowhow that would be necessary in deciphering the spirit and letter of the legislation concerning the juveniles.
Finally, the onus rests on the juveniles; they must also become more abrasive and cognizant of the law. The current societal era is largely knowledge and information based. It can, therefore, be argued that the juveniles of this generation ought to incur a higher criminal liability as compared to the liability that was imposed on the juveniles of the yesteryears. The juveniles today are more exposed and should be more responsible. Therefore, they should act rationally and responsibly in the pursuit of their endeavors. As such, the law must be brought into currency through amendments and legislation. In consolidating the legislations concerning juvenile systems, it remains imperative for stakeholders to take in the input gathered from law enforcement officers and other juvenile services agencies.
In conclusion the future of juvenile justice systems rests on the conduct of the departmental agencies charged with the executor functions. The need to speedily harmonize their functions and enable their operations to be cohesively run cannot be overlooked. In addition, the juveniles should be more cognizant of the legal expectations imposed on them. They must approach societal issues with a rational mentality. Society expects more from the juveniles and as such, the law would soon impose higher liability on the juveniles.
Hartjen, C. A. (2008). Youth, Crime, and Justice:A Global Inquiry. New York: Rutgers University Press.
Scott, E. S., & Steinberg, L. D. (2008). Rethinking Juvenile Justice. Boston: Harvard University Press.
Taylor, R., & Fritsch, E. (2010). Juvenile Justice: Policies, Programs, and Practices. New York: McGraw-Hill Companies.