This paper will attempt to explain how children are processed by the juvenile justice system from the beginning of the process until the very end of the process. The paper will also address the community policing model.
Most kids who end up involved with the juvenile justice system have been taken into custody for some reason by a police officer. If a crime has been committed, depending upon the seriousness, the officer makes a decision on whether or not to release the juvenile to their parents or guardians, or if they will take a more serious stance by referring them over to a social service organization or in the case of a crime, commit them to the juvenile court. If the decision is made to commit them over to the courts, a petition has to be filed, and all of the juvenile’s rights that are protected under the fourth and Fifth Amendment’s must be protected. Juveniles can also be referred into the system as neglect, abuse, and dependency cases.
The child is then detained and a hearing to determine whether or not the crime warrants consequences enough for them to remain in detention or be returned to the community while awaiting further court action. The police have the option of referring the child to a community service program or they can file formal charges against the juvenile.
Next is the adjudication process, where the juvenile is informed of his right to go to trial, and is informed that their plea or admission of the crime should be voluntary, and asked if they understand the charges against them and what the consequences could be. The child can admit to the crime at this point and this process will come to an end, where it will proceed straight to the disposition of the crime. If they do not admit guilt at this point, a trial called an adjudicatory hearing is scheduled, where a judge will hear what the allegations against the child are and decide the outcome based on the seriousness of the crime. During this phase, the child has a right to have counsel present, the right to not incriminate themselves, the right to confront and have their counsel cross-examine the witnesses, and they also have the right to a trial by a jury.
Depending on what the judge or jury decides, the child is either released or a treatment is prescribed in the event the child is found guilty. This begins a two stage process, which is “The procedure of separating adjudicatory and dispositionary hearings so different levels of evidence can be heard at each”, (Siegal & Welsh, 2012, p. 486) called the bifurcated process. It consists of the disposition of the case and the treatment order, as juveniles are not sentenced like adults to prisons for punishment, but to be treated for release into the community depending on what crime or crimes they have committed. In juvenile proceedings, the “initial concept of rehabilitation and treatment has been affirmed in many decisions”. (Cox, Allen, Hanser, & Conrad, 2011, p. 123) If the child is not sentenced to detention in an institution, they may be placed on probation, which is common. The juvenile is placed under supervision by the juvenile probation office and is assigned a juvenile case worker to monitor their treatment in a community setting.
If the juvenile is sentenced to be detained in an institution, upon their release they will probably be placed on parole. Parole is like probation where they are assigned an officer from the juvenile probation/parole office to