Juvenile Criminal Justice System

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1.0 Introduction A juvenile delinquent is a minor who is typically below 18 years of age and commits an act that otherwise would have been charged as a crime if they were an adult. In this day and age, juvenile offenders are not sent to prisons, but to rehabilitation centres designed specifically to rehabilitate juvenile offenders. This was not always the case however, as the idea of a separate justice system for juveniles is just over a hundred years old. 1.1 History of juvenile criminal justice system In the 1700s, laws did not distinguish between juveniles and adults within the criminal justice system. William Blackstone, one of the most important English lawyers at the time, determined that there were two things required to hold…show more content…
Dr. David Fassler, a psychiatry professor at the University of Vermont College of Medicine, stated that when adolescents are confronted by stressful or emotional decisions, it is more likely for them to act impulsively on instinct, without fully recognizing and understanding the consequences that their actions would bring (Ritter, 2007). Thus, adolescents on average when compared to adults act more impulsively and aggressively, and are also highly volatile to stress. This shows that they are unable to think ahead during extreme circumstances, and only see what is in front of them. It should be recognized that an adolescent is unable to think like an adult because their brains have not fully developed yet. The adolescent years, between the ages of 11 to 19, are a transitional period for teenagers. Not only are they learning psychologically and mentally, their brains are still in a developmental phase. In fact, studies have shown that a teenager’s brain does not equal an adult’s fully matured brain until their early 20s. “I was impulsive. I wouldn’t think about the consequences,” said Luke R., a Florida youth serving a prison sentence for robbery (Guy, 2015). Because of this, juvenile rehabilitation centres are designed to assist in developing any juveniles that are prosecuted in the juvenile court. These…show more content…
The issue of juveniles being tried as adults is no doubt controversial, however, it should be understood that every juvenile delinquent is capable of change and it is just a matter of degree. The law was able to realize this and change for the better. Ex-adult convicts were able to become more useful members of society, even more so, juveniles who are still developing. It is a cruel and unprecedented punishment to sentence a juvenile to adult prisons which could bring more abuse than the original sentence. Ultimately there is always hope for a juvenile to change for the better. Famous stars such as Snoop Dogg and Mark Wahlberg were once involved in the cocaine business. This shows that change is possible and a society should never give up on any of its
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