July 7, 2014
CJA/204, Introduction to Criminal Justice
Juvenile delinquency and juvenile crime article
One current issue in the juvenile justice system and your opinion on that issue
The juvenile justice system is a constantly evolving system that moves with the ebb and flow of crime that happens from youthful offenders. While repeat offenders commit some of the crimes, the majority of crime committed by youth is out of boredom and not based on malice aforethought. This article will discuss many different portions of the criminal justice system from differences between juvenile and adult systems to youth crime statistics. According to dictionary.com, “delinquency is described as behavior of a child or youth that is so marked by violation of law, persistent mischievousness, antisocial behavior, disobedience, or intractability as to thwart correction by parents and to constitute a matter for action by the juvenile courts.” A status offense is conduct that is unlawful only because the offender is a minor. Some examples of status offenses are underage drinking, skipping school, truancy, and running away from home. If adults committed most of these crimes there would be no issue there but because minors commit them, they are considered offenses.
The juvenile justice system has some similarities to the adult criminal justice system but for the vast majority is an incredibly different system. The juvenile system is focused on protecting the minor’s privacy, keeping minors out of harms way, and giving support, treatment and services more than applying punishment toward the young offenders. The desired goal for the youthful offenders is to make the correction with them quickly and get them redirected onto the right path so treatment and rehabilitation can be effective.
Another difference is juveniles are not considered defendants because they are not prosecuted for committing crimes but they commit delinquent acts. Judges are assigned to work these courts because they require a special attention and cannot be lumped in with regular court systems. Similarities of these systems are they both have judges, attorneys, and have the right to an attorney, counsel, confront their accuser and cross-examine witnesses, freedom from incrimination's, and notice of charges. A major difference is juveniles don't have a right to a public trial by jury. For a juvenile charged with a crime, the trial portion of the case involves a judge hearing evidence and ruling on whether or not the minor is delinquent. This is called an adjudication hearing.
While there are many contributing factors in juvenile crime rates, the factor with the highest reported contribution is poverty. The cause of poverty is an unfortunate lottery of geography, much of which is made up of the urban areas and high poverty neighborhoods. Criminal activity may be “contagious” in high-crime areas because the social penalties for committing crime or the probability of arrest may be lower than in other neighborhoods [Sah 1991; Cook and Goss 1996; Sampson, Raudenbush,and Earls 1997; Schrag and Scotchmer 1997]. Minors are a primary focus for criminal activity among gangs, they are general easier to manipulate and have desire to “fit in” or are forced to join by threats.
Juvenile crime rates as reported by the FBI’s Uniformed Crime Reporting agency are at an all-time low. In 2011, the FBI reported that of all the crimes reported, juveniles involved were as follows: violent crimes10%, property crimes were 16%, murder 5%, forcible rape 11%, Robbery 14%, aggravated assault 9%, burglary 14%, and larceny-theft 17%, motor vehicle theft 13%, and arson 34%. Overall, in 2010, juveniles were arrested about 21% less often than in 2001. In fact, the number of juveniles arrested for violent crimes was at its lowest in at least 30 years, showing a 12% reduction between 2009 and 2010 and continuing a 4-year decline. The rate for overall juvenile