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Cjs 240 - Penitentary System - Justice System Position Paper

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Justice System Position Paper

CJS 240

Axia University of Phoenix

The juvenile justice system of the United States should focus on rehabilitation versus punishment. The quandary of how to effectively deal with juvenile offenders has inundated the United States ever since the initiation of the criminal justice system. Both punishment and rehabilitation of juveniles have been two issues that are in the hands of the government. There are risks and benefits with rehabilitation and with punishment of juveniles, however rehabilitation is the form that seems more promising for the United States and its' citizens, including the offender.

The United States juvenile justice system should focus more on rehabilitation in every case involving juvenile offenders. There is no federal juvenile court division (U.S. Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs, 1997). The maximum age at which a juvenile is considered maximum to enter the juvenile system varies by state. In New York, Connecticut and North Carolina the Maximum age for a juvenile is 15. There are 32 states in America that see the age of 18 as the maximum age a juvenile can be considered to appear in juvenile system, while the remaining 8 states feel that age 16 is the maximum age that a juvenile can appear in the juvenile system. While looking at the youngest age a juvenile is entered into the justice system, it appears that the age of 7 is the youngest being that any age before that is measured as not being mentally developed (Champion, 1998). To sum this up, the age of juveniles found in the juvenile justice system is in the range of 7 years to 17 years old.

In 2009 the United States Census Bureau stated the average life expectancy of a human being to be 77.8 years old (U.S. Census Bureau,2009). To completely understand reasoning of why rehabilitation should be considered versus punishment, one should comprehend the meaning of punishment. The imposition of incarceration, monetary fines, bodily suffering and in some cases, death is the meaning of punishment (Boonin, 2008). In the case of juveniles punishment is unrealistic. In the United States bodily suffering and the death penalty is not allowed. Our United States Constitution protects against cruel and unusual punishment. The United States Supreme Court upheld a law that said, the death penalty in cases where the offender was under the age of 18 when the offense was committed was outlawed, in 2005 (Golash, 2006).One form of punishment is taken away for juveniles, now leaving monetary fines and imprisonment as forms of punishment for a juvenile offender. Monetary fines generally are not feasible upon juveniles because juveniles generally do not have a significant source of income and the responsibility will lie upon the parents to pay the monetary fines. It is not sensible to place juveniles in lock up for extended periods of time.

Clearly, when dealing with juveniles, strictly punishment is not the answer and rehabilitation measures should be instituted. Incarceration of juveniles will instead not change a juveniles behavior without the implications of being taught how to behave differently and become successful, law abiding citizens within the community. The feelings of not belonging or fitting in unless they committed some significant act is a few reasons that juveniles cite as for their reasons in committing their crime (Juvenile Rehabilitation for Delinquent Children, 2009). Most juveniles begin committing acts of misconduct to gain the attention of others or when the are under peer pressure and trying to fit into a group. In the case of gangs, juveniles are cited as joining gangs to fulfill the sense of belonging, an emotional need that is often missing in the home of the juvenile. Committing criminal acts are a way for juveniles to stand out in gangs or to fit in with others. Some of the acts that juveniles commit include vandalism, larcenies and other minor criminal acts as a way of showing that they are willing to do what it takes to fit in or feel a part of a group (Siegel & Welsh, 2005). It is advisable that at this time is where intervention is needed in the lives of these juveniles', before the criminal acts become more serious and frequent.

The juvenile court system and law enforcement agencies will feel the greatest impact of change is rehabilitation is focused on more with juveniles. Certain procedures are to be followed when a juvenile is arrested or referred to the juvenile justice system. The procedures that must be followed are a combination of court procedures, state laws and departmental policies when arresting and detaining juvenile offenders. These procedures do differ among different regions and localities and it is recommended that they be combined as a set uniform policy in working with juveniles, in order to be more efficient and effective. Upon arrest of a juvenile, law enforcement and the court system should settle on what placement program a juvenile should be referred to. In order to be effective, law enforcement agencies should be able to have access to the juveniles entire criminal or offender record, both past and present, this will aid in making an effective decision on the type of treatment or intervention that a juvenile may be referred or court ordered to. By having access to a juveniles entire record it will aid the department in determining whether or not this is the juvenile offenders first offense or if they are a repeat offender. It is extremely crucial in determining the type of treatment for a juvenile offender to prevent future incarceration, if at all possible. Rehabilitation will not be successful if the governing agencies are not able to successfully gain the past and present offense records of a juvenile.

There are some states that have assessment centers for juveniles, this is where juveniles are brought once they are arrested and processed. The assessment centers handle only juveniles. Generally at the assessment center is where a majority of the background information is obtained on a juvenile, this includes a juveniles prior criminal and detainment records, information on the family and home life of the juvenile and where other assessments will be ran that will be determining factors on the treatment and punishment of the juvenile. When adults are arrested for a crime there are several factors that come into play to determine the outcome of the offenders sentence, this is also true with juveniles. With the juvenile assessment center having access to information on various juvenile rehabilitation programs and the information on each juvenile, they will be able to give a recommendation to the prosecutors on which program that will be more beneficial to each



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