In the United States, juveniles are treated differently than adults. The juvenile justice system is a system that is designed to provide rehabilitation, not punishment. Juveniles are not sent to prison, but are placed in detention centers. They are subject to a variety of programs and sanctions. These sanctions can include fines, counseling, and probation. Some are placed in residential treatment programs.
Juvenile delinquency policy is often a political issue that swings from one extreme to the other. In the 1960s, juvenile crime laws were stricter. Strict moral teaching was imposed on inmates. Often, these young people were held in congregate settings with barbed wire rims. This created a sense of fear in these children. In the final two decades of the 20th century, juvenile crime laws were tightened even more.
Reformers were outraged when they saw juvenile delinquents treated as adults. Many of them were placed in reform schools, or houses of refuge. Others were remanded to adult prisons. While some states enacted laws that required parents to pay for their children’s detention, other states have ceased charging parents.
In some states, the courts will not release juvenile records until a person is twenty-one. As a result, youth who were incarcerated in a juvenile facility may be prevented from enrolling in college or the military. Additionally, these records can hinder employment opportunities.
However, the recent “get-tough” law has made it easier to treat a juvenile as an adult. Under this law, a judge makes the decision on whether or not to try a juvenile in court. Previously, this decision was handled by a prosecutor. Having the court decide on the juvenile’s trial has changed the way that juveniles are viewed and their punishments.
However, the Court has also determined that juveniles have the same rights as adults, including the right to have a defense attorney present at the time of the adjudication stage. Additionally, the Supreme Court extended the right to have charges proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
Juvenile court judges must balance the needs of the youth with the safety of the public. A judge will consider the age of the child, the crime he or she committed, and the severity of the offense. Children who commit more serious crimes may be transferred to adult prisons, with protective custody.
Several state legislatures have passed laws allowing juveniles to have jury trials. This change was made possible by the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Protection Act. Introduced by Senators Chuck Grassley and Sheldon Whitehouse, this legislation has helped reduce racial disparities in the juvenile justice system.
It has also been estimated that less than a half of a percent of juveniles commit the most violent crimes. Approximately five percent of white and black juveniles are incarcerated in secure facilities away from home.
One of the reasons that youth are incarcerated is to prevent them from hurting themselves. Another reason is to ensure that they are available for court. Law enforcement officers often skip this step. If a juvenile does not appear for court, he or she will be held in detention. Detention can interfere with the development of a child and make them more likely to become an adult criminal.