Juvenile Justice And Delinquency Prevention Essay Example

  • Category: Law,
  • Words: 988 Pages: 4
  • Published: 24 April 2021
  • Copied: 194

Juvenile justice has often been overlooked when discussing social justice issues, due to the unclear and ever-changing issue and definitions; howbeit, in 1974 when the Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention Act was signed, it addressed that juveniles are to be detained separately from adult inmates, and to ensure funding for prevention programs. Today we experience many different issues when discussing Juvenile justice, today youth face the possibility of criminal charges revolves around the possibility of being tried or charged as an adult, as well as economic and racial discrimination from the police force, judicial executives, and legal representatives. The Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention act has been revised time and time again, and while it could provide even more clarification and restrictions following juvenile proceedings the act has fulfilled its intentions of lowering the overall number of Juveniles imprisoned with adults and increased the number, quality, and effectiveness of preventative methods for at-risk youth

In the United States, a Juvenile is considered a person under the age of 18 facing criminal charges. The United States Department of Justice Archives describes the proceedings for Juveniles as falling within two separate categories; those between the ages of 18 and 21who may proceed with a transfer to adult process, and those under the age of 18 who are tried as delinquents. Delinquents are prohibited from being placed in institutions where one may have “regular contact" with adults convicted of crimes or awaiting trial on criminal charges, which is one of the issues the original JJDPA addressed in 1974. (DOJ, 2020) That being said, today juveniles between the ages of 18 and 21 often teeter on being tried and charged as adults or delinquents often based on the charges and previous criminal history. Individuals between the ages of 18 and 21 often face the longest sentences possible for minor non-violent crimes because of charges they face at younger ages. This is an issue that the prevention act could further address, regulating the proper procedures and regulations in processing a juvenile with a previous record; as well as juveniles between the ages of 18 and 21. 

I chose to review this policy because I believe the judicial branch has often taken advantage of their rights and has long misinterpreted vulnerable youth, particularly those of low-income and black families. The rate at which these individuals are facing serious time and charges for non-violent crimes is unacceptable when there are so many alternative options. The reinforcement and reinterpretation of the Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention Act will help ensure that youth who face criminal charges will not only receive the proper punishment for their crimes but will also be assisted in better understanding the law and their actions, all while continuing to develop into contributing members of society. The current system the United States holds within the prisons and jails often doesn’t have or allow individuals to continue or pick up on education or job training services, which limits an individual’s opportunities once released. While many people advocate for these rights towards adults, I believe the juveniles who are being released without this assistance can be impacted more harshly than some adults. Often youth choose not to re-enroll in schooling after serving time which prevents them from furthering themselves and allows for them to repeat previous patterns and continue to rotate in and out of the prison and jail systems. 

The Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention Act has four Core Requirements, Deinstitutionalization of Status Offenders (DSO), Adult Jail and Lock-up Removal, Sight and Sound Separation, and Racial and Ethnic Disparities. Deinstitutionalization of status offenders refers to focusing on alternatives to placing juveniles into detention facilities for status offenses. Other options include day treatments or residential home treatments, counseling, mentoring, family support, and alternative education. Adult jail lock-up removal and sight and sound separation focus on protecting children from psychological abuse, physical assault, and isolation that they would experience if incarcerated with adult offenders. Individuals who enter the prison systems at young ages often find themselves to be targets of sexual abuse, manipulation, and gang involvement. The act then addresses racial and ethnic disparities, which assess and address disparities at key points in the juvenile justice system – from arrest to detention to confinement all of which could highly impact a juvenile’s mental health and challenge their legal and personal rights.

The Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention Act has been amended a total of seven times since the act’s initial acceptance in 1974. The original Bill only included the creation of Formula Grants for at-risk youth programs, established requirements of juvenile separation, and the deinstitutionalization of status offenders. While helpful, the act at the time was lacking clarity within the law regarding punishment forms placed upon juveniles. The act’s revisions form between 1977 and 1988 primarily focused on jail removal requirements, separation requirements and attempted to address disproportionate minority confinement (DMC). Revisions made between 1992 and 2018 focused on grant-related concerns and state-required funding for prevention programs. (ACT4, 2014)

The act’s revisions up until 2018 played a large role in the overall decline of Juveniles; however, modern-day statistics show that there is still much room and need for further improvement to ensure a decrease in incarcerated youth of low-income and black juveniles.  Steven Zane, a professor in the College of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Florida State University, released an article, “Have Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Juvenile Justice Declined Over Time? An Empirical Assessment of the DMC Mandate”, In efforts to evaluate current issues about incarcerated youth and further inform Americans about ongoing racial discrimination within the justice system. He provides feedback from a relative rate index (RRI) observation study that black youth had been increasingly detention over white youth, with the relative rate index (RRI) increasing from 1.3 in 2005 to 1.4 in 2018. (Zane, 2020) While this number may seem small the same study provided that at waiver, which refers to cases that transfer from juvenile court to adult court upon request of the judge assigned to the case, the Black-White RRI increased from 1.1 in 2005 to 1.6 in 2018. (Zane, 2020) With that in mind, it’s apparent that some changes still need to be made despite the rate of confinement for youth having dropped over 40% since 1995. (Rodriguez, 2018) The continuance of youth tried and incarcerated as an adult is a combination of racial and economic discrimination emanating from law enforcement, which is why the Juvenile Justice and delinquency prevention Act was created and continues to be revised.

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