Juvenile Justice or Juvenile Law
A separate juvenile justice for the youth is a 20th century phenomenon that grew out of the lobbying of social reformers (Siegel 2011, p. 561). The establishment of the juvenile system is a good development because it reflects the acknowledgment by society of the distinctions between a child and an adult mind. Adults have fully developed brain systems that allow them to fully understand the implications of their actions. According to Zerubavel (2009) children cannot draw fine lines “between the normal and the perverse” and “between the sacred from the profane” (p. 14). Thus, children generally do not share the same level of maturity, thought process, ability to make correct decisions, or wisdom of adults (Edwards 2014). Even if the child has a comparatively higher IQ than his peers, his lack of experience can still place him at a disadvantage.
The waiver system renders the goals and purposes of juvenile system useless. In Kent v. United States, 383 U.S. 541 (1966), the SC referred to its use as giving the child offender the worst of both worlds because he/she does not receive the protection that adult courts afford to offender nor the protection that he should get from juvenile courts. Youth offenders should continue to be placed under the juvenile system because of the wider discretion offered to the courts and the prosecutors. Thus, children are given second chances not commonly afforded to adult offenders in the adult system.
However, discretionary dealings must be to the advantage of the child offender. In the case of In re Gault, 387 U.S. 1 (1967), the child offender was picked up by the police for making an indecent call to his neighbor. He was committed to an industrial school for 6 years without giving him the rights afforded under the due process doctrine. Moreover, the sentence was more harsh when compared to adult offenders who are meted only a $50 fine and/or imprisonment for not more than 2 months.
Edwards, T. (2014). ‘The Reasons for Treating Juveniles Differently,’ Juvenile Justice. PBS Frontline.
In re Gault, 387 U.S. 1 (1967).
Kent v. United States, 383 U.S. 541 (1966).
Siegel, L. (2011). Criminology. Cengage Learning.
Zerubavel, E. (2009). Social Mindscapes: An Invitation to Cognitive Sociology. Harvard University Press.