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Juveniles or Criminals

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Prior to the establishment of the modern juvenile justice system, children could be made to stand trial in criminal court for crimes committed, and if found culpable, they could be sentenced as an adult would be sentenced for similar crimes, with sentences resulting in prison time or even death. The juvenile justice system was developed in a large part due to the developing belief that youth offenders were incapable of criminal intent and should not be held to the same criminal standard adult offenders are. Therefore, it was considered appropriate to exempt juvenile offenders that were considered incapable of intent to commit a criminal act from prosecution and punishment. “Parens patriae” is the responsibility of the state to institute control over children when the child has posed a problem for the community due to criminal behavior, or when the natural parents of the children were either unable or not willing to meet their parental responsibilities. The juvenile justice reform movement began in this country according to this “parens patrie” line of thinking about the states role in the development of a child. Juvenile justice reform in this country developed a system in which juveniles were perceived as having less developed cognitive and moral capacities, and capabilities, which limited their ability to be held criminally responsible for the crimes that they committed. Therefore, due to the reform of the juvenile justice system the focus shifted from if the offense was committed by the offender, to a focus on the offender as an individual. Questions were asked such as: who is this offender? What is the offender’s situation? Furthermore, instead of focusing on the punishment of the offender, the juvenile justice began to foc... ... middle of paper ... ...w abolishing the juvenile system would be better for the children that which the system is designed to serve. Finally, I would propose that as an alternative to the “abolishment” solution that the juvenile justice system return to the initial beliefs, ideas, and core values that led to the systems initial creation. I would recommend maintaining a separate juvenile court that still acts in the best interest of the juvenile and the community we live in. We should not be afraid of our countries youth and give up and lock them up with no hope of rehabilitation and no hope of a better future just because we are afraid of the violence that they “ may be” capable of. This is one situation in which we can not overreact, and must use compassion, and common sense to see that abolishing the juvenile justice system would not be in the best interest of the children involved.
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