Juveniles are the young people, children, and youths, who have not attained the age of being regarded as adults. Adults, on the other hand, are people who are considered grown-ups and independent hence fully accountable for their deeds. The
difference between the juveniles and the adults has led to different treatment, especially concerning criminal activities committed by them hence the existence of both the juvenile and adult courts. This paper gives a critical analysis of the juvenile and adult courts giving insights into the similarities and differences between them, the aspects related to the juvenile justice system including the effects of changes on it, and finally the societal implications of abolishing juvenile courts.
An Overview of the Juvenile Justice System
Juvenile courts are involved with jurisdiction on matters that concern children and the youths, for example, adoption, running away, truancy, neglect, and delinquency. Juveniles can be passed on to the juvenile justice system by a variety of people and bodies for instance parents, social workers, teachers, and other school employees, people involved in the enforcement of law among others who aim at helping them to change their behavior and consider formal systems appropriate for that.
When the juveniles are presented to the justice system, a decision is usually made on whether to refer them to further steps into the justice system or to deal with the cases without involving the system through the application of alternative programs, for example, counseling treatment for instance from effects of drugs, and referral to recreational or educational facilities depending on the specifications of a particular case.
Once at the juvenile courts, a decision is made after critically examining whether there exists sufficient reason that can warrant the filing of a petition for a hearing or transfer to an adult court but in most cases, alternative programs are considered.
Different states and nations take the juveniles differently. Some cases are referred directly to the adult courts irrespective of age. In some instances, the juvenile justice system may consider the transfer of the delinquents to adult courts for trial and processing. The sentence could either be to a juvenile or adult facility. The juveniles are under a period of aftercare of which they are expected to behave in a certain manner failure to which they are held back in a facility and those considered as youth offenders as opposed to children may be subjected to an adult endorsement (Lawinfo, n.d par1).
Comparison between Juvenile and Adult Courts
There are various similarities and differences between the juvenile and adult courts concerning how cases and victims are handled. Some of the similarities are: both the juvenile justice systems and the adult courts protect the public and are involved in the enforcement of laws. The purpose of processing both the juvenile delinquents and adult criminals is usually the same and both courts may decide on whether to hold the offenders in custody awaiting trial or not. Both the adult courts and the juvenile courts provide an opportunity to appeal when the adult offenders and delinquents are not content with the sentencing. Sentencing and incarceration is another area where the similarity between the two courts can be seen, in both cases, the judge has authority to decide on an appropriate sentence (Yakov, 2011 par1).
The differences occur because of the perception of society that juveniles should be treated differently from adults. Some of the notable distinctions between the juvenile justice system and adult courts include the rulings given. The juvenile justice systems also involve numerous non-law enforcement agencies for instance schools, community-based institutions, and other social services agencies as opposed to those available for adult offenders.
The juvenile courts are also concerned with matters that pertain to the children or youths, for example, running away from home and truancy issues that do not apply to adults hence are not considered in adult courts. The juvenile courts also have some extra powers like the ordering of removal of children and youths from their homes to enhance their recovery for instance through participation in a variety of programs that aim at improving their conditions that is not
the case concerning adult offenders. The juvenile court process is always civil whereas, the adult court process is criminal (Anonymous, 1995 par1).
The effects of the transfer of the juvenile delinquents or the youthful offenders to the adult courts and facilities
The change of the system that involves the handling of the delinquents and youthful offenders as adults by trying them in adult courts and remands is not without some effects. The waiver process is the means applied to move the juvenile delinquents from the custody of juvenile courts to that of the adult criminal courts. The implication of this process could either be positive or negative depending on the result attained. For instance, when a youth is transferred from the juvenile court to a criminal court, he or she is entitled to a jury trial
and hence he or she has the advantage of enjoying the rights that are given to adult offenders. A disadvantage could occur when the juvenile delinquent suffers harsh or difficult treatments and sentences when handled as an adult. The juvenile delinquents could also become worse when they are mixed with the adults in the adult facilities as the adults are usually associated with more violent and harmful crimes as compared to the juvenile delinquents, and they may adopt this behavior and come out in worse conditions than they were initially (Redding, 2010 par5).
The Societal Implications of Abolishing Juvenile Court
The aspect of abolishing the juvenile courts has resulted in different reactions from society. The juvenile justice system has proved to be very effective in changing the lives of the delinquents and in case of their abolishment, the juveniles will be forced to be tried in adult courts and face harsh treatment, and they may not be able to enjoy rehabilitation facilities.
The societal implication of the abolishment of the juvenile court could be the rise in crime by the juvenile offenders due to fewer actions taken on them, higher drop out rates among the youths due to lack of molding or correction institutions, rise in the arrest of the juvenile delinquents due to lack of social control, an added burden to the adult courts as the try to house and deal with the juvenile delinquencies. The juvenile delinquencies may also adopt major offenses committed by the adults when they are mixed with them as they are prone to be influenced as opposed to when they would be handled in the juvenile justice system (Scott & Steinberg, 2008 p.55).
There exist differences between the juvenile justice systems and the adult courts as the offenders involved are handled differently. The juvenile justice system has changed greatly over the years due to the existence of varying cases and offenses committed by the different people covered by the system, that is, the children and the youthful offenders.
Anonymous, (1995). Juvenile Crime: Part I. LAO. Web.
Lawinfo, (n.d). Find Juvenile Justice System Attorneys by State. Web.
Redding, E.R. (2010). Juvenile Transfer Laws: An effective Deterrent to Delinquency? Web.
Scott, S.E. and Steinberg, D.L. (2008). Rethinking Juvenile Justice. New York: Harvard University Press.
Yakov, B. (2011). Similarities between Adult Court & Juvenile Court. Web.