Juvenile Courts Term Paper

Pages: 5 (1581 words)  ·  Style: MLA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 4  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: Children

Juvenile Courts

The juvenile justice system has been in existence since the civil war ear, when the U.S. was undergoing specific and detailed reevaluation of what and whom had rights that needed to be protected. Children had yet to be protected by compulsory education rules or child labor laws and some were concerned that children if given the legal definition of owned by parents or the state would be the countries "new slaves." Chicago, IL was the location for the first juvenile court and it was established, in part by a Illinois Supreme Court ruling that releases a 14-year-old boy from reform school because due process had not been followed to remand him there and he had according to the system committed no crime but was among a percentage of children "at risk" for delinquency based on his family history. (Tanenhaus xiii-xvi) the unanimous ruling by the Illinois Supreme Court that the boy, who was 14 deserved due process and the protection of his rights was titled, the People v. Turner, 55 Illinois 280 (1870).

Tanenhaus xiii)

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The trend to establish juvenile courts across the nation began from this point, with each subsequent state seeking to establish systems that responded to the needs of "children" but also demanded their right as well. Juvenile justice, in other words has a long and productive history that goes back to the inception of the nation and is a significant aspect of justice in general as a new nation defined its ins and outs. "Frederick Wines declared: "What we should have, in our system of criminal justice, is an entirely separate system of courts for children, in large cities, who commit offenses which could be criminal in adults."

TOPIC: Term Paper on Juvenile Courts Assignment

(Tanenhaus 3) This separate court system would later be defined and conceived by subsequent legal advocates as it developed, concurrently with other institutions of the new nation, to answer questions regarding freedom and ethic.

The early inception of this separate judicial system is that children who fall in the category to end up in juvenile court should in fact be parented by the state. The idea being that children cannot be "reformed" by punishment as they have yet to be "formed." (Tanenhaus 23) the court then went about defining what that role would be and developing systems that spoke to that goal, by first legitimizing the field of juvenile justice and then by later "medicalizing" juvenile crime, or allowing juvenile crime to be defined as intentional only in the sense of some driving need or cause for criminal actions that were beyond the visible. One of the main decision was an attempt by the court to restore or preserve the family of origin to allow the individual child the ability to grow, hopefully with better parenting in the family environment, rather than to separate the child from the family for, "reform" as had been done in the past.

Juvenile courts sprang up all over the nation as each state defined the category of the juvenile and assimilated new and existing service to create an inclusive and supportive "parental" system that would teach the child a lesson in a much different manner than adult court had before. In Memphis for example a city that closely followed Chicago the juvenile court was an adjunct to social welfare systems that were coordinated and expanded to help the system answer some of the needs the delinquent had that may have caused the criminal behavior.

Thomas 794)

In many ways the Juvenile Justice system and the juvenile courts sprang from the Progressive Era philosophy that attempted to take the juvenile out of the hard knocks situation of adulthood and build a safety net around them, where one had not already developed. Though some also argue that the juvenile sustice system was an attempt to create a situation of social control, over mainly immigrants and the poor, it was in truth not conceived as such.

The founders of the Cook County Juvenile Court shared a faith in the experimental techniques of science and the ameliorative powers of the state. In the new court, reformers promised, judges would work with social workers, probation officers, and psychiatric specialists to devise a humane "treatment" for each dependent or delinquent youth.

Willrich 716)

One markedly different characteristic of the juvenile court, as apposed to the standard adult court system is that it makes a rather fruitful attempt and success at dealing with each case as independent phenomena. Each individual child that is seen before it has his or her life examined to determine what it is that is possibly creating the situation of delinquency and tries to alter this situation.

The court would double as a laboratory, where experts could diagnose the ills of industrial society and propose legislative cures. For Getis, this progressive promise was real -- at least during the court's first fifteen years, when reformers had a firm grip on the institution. The court was "the hub of a wheel of reform legislation within Illinois" (50). And it served as a wellspring of data for social scientists at the University of Chicago committed to building an American welfare state.

Willrich 716)

The combination of individual treatment for each offended and the idea that medical as well as environmental issues could be at play ion the behavior that was landing them in the system created a system where children were treated differently than adults and given much different sentencing and penalties. In the early days, reform schools were still one of the only alternatives but these places began to transform into what we now think of as modern "juvenile corrections" institutions which mirror jails and prisons but are constructed differently, to protect individuals from further harm and create an impetus within them to redirect thoughts and actions to positive rather than negative actions.

Dodge 51)

Sentencing is not always what you would think of a lighter, as some offenders actually get remanded to the system until they turn 18 or 21 but they have opportunity that is not necessarily offered the adult inmate, to go to school, receive medical intervention and refocus their energy on productive personal change. The ideals of the court have clearly not always been met, but most criminal justice experts and especially those involved in juvenile justice concede that the court needs reformation not abolition. The juvenile court needs to be conceived in the manner of the ideals of its founders, rather than being disbanded to further overburden the adult system.

Dodge 51) Some argue that the juvenile court has become so much like the adult justice system, with policy reformation guided by fear mongering, associated with phantom increases in juvenile crime, which was arguably crime sensationalism that marked the whole of the late 1980s and all of the 1990s. The media sensationalism of the period created a false sense of "insecurity" regarding the nature of crime, and especially juvenile crime. Real crime rates were actually declining but the media was reporting on anomalous crime as if it was the standard and thus the fear of crime and crime committed by young people, especially violent crime, became something to be feared, when in reality not much had changed and things might have actually been getting better. (Krajicek 4-5)

Juvenile courts serve an important purpose, and are not redundancy, as many in favor of their elimination have argued. Regardless of the allocation that is expended to maintain the juvenile courts the purpose they serve is demonstrative of separating children from adult criminals and attempting to create a system that answers their needs before they become adult criminals. If anything the courts should not be eliminated they should be strengthened, yet like anything that comes under the scrutiny of public finance at regular intervals the juvenile court system is facing the threat… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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