The juvenile justice system has been around since the late 19th century. Before this time if a juvenile committed a crime they would be tried in the same court system as an adult. Today, this would seem very strange or unfair to most people. But, before the end of the 19th century there were no court systems designed for juvenile offenders. When it came to prosecuting juveniles in the adult court system, it had to be determined whether or not a juvenile could be criminally responsible for their actions. If the juvenile was under the age of seven, then the courts felt that they were entirely to young to be held responsible. If the juvenile was between the ages of seven and fourteen then the courts felt it was questionable to whether or not they could be criminally responsible. It would then be up to the prosecution to prove criminal responsibility. If a juvenile was over fourteen then they were considered to be criminally responsibility and could be charged as an adult. This means that a juvenile at this time could be punished as an adult. This could mean going to jail or sentenced to death.
Incarcerating juveniles and adults can be extremely dangerous. The solution to this problem was created by introducing "House of Refugee and Reform Schools" (Shepherd, Robert 1999). In 1899 the first juvenile court for youths was introduced. This court system was used for juveniles who committed crimes. It also was used for juveniles who were neglected, dependent or delinquent and who were under the age of sixteen. One thing that was established in the juvenile court system when it started was that juvenile criminal records were considered to be confidential and they were separate from other criminal records.
Although the juvenile court system started in Illinois, it quickly spread to other states. When the juvenile court system became more sufficient, the United States Supreme Court stepped in and decided that juveniles have the right to due process. This was determined by Kent vs. U.S (1966), which stated that "youths transferred to adult courts were entitled to a hearing, meaningful representation by counsel, and a statement of reason of transfer"; In re Gault (1967), which stated " youth subject to delinquency proceedings has the right to notice and an opportunity to be heard, to counsel, to cross-examine witnesses, and the right against self-incrimination"; In re Winship (1970), which stated that " a state must prove a youth guilty of charges beyond a reasonable doubt"; and Breed vs. Jones (1975), which stated that " the double jeopardy clause prohibits states from transferring juveniles to adult courts after finding them delinquent". The Supreme Court also decided in 1971, that juveniles are not eligible to have a jury trial. All the laws that the United States Supreme Court established helped to form how the juvenile court system is ran today.
There are many differences and similarities among the adult and juvenile court system. The following are the differences: The juvenile court system was set up to protect juveniles and to help them to receive treatment for problems they might be experience, whether it is through family court or criminal court. While the adult court was set up to punish adults who are guilty of a crime. In the juvenile court system rehabilitation is a main focus. While in the adult court deterrence is the main focus. Juveniles are considered to be delinquent and not guilty. While adults are considered either guilty or innocent. Parole for juveniles is considered to be for monitoring a juveniles activities within the community. While adult probation is used to monitor adults from committing illicit behavior. Juvenile records are considered to be confidential because juveniles are considered to be successfully rehabilitated. This way their juvenile records will not affect their future goals. While adult courts records are open and available to the public. This way an adults criminal record follows...
References: Bilchik, Shay. 2000. System Change Through State Challenge Activities: Approaches and Products. Juvenile Justice Bulletin.
Fox, Sanford. 1998. A Contribution to the History of the American Juvenile Court. Juvenile and Family Court Journal, Vol. 49, No. 4.
Jackson, David. 1999. Broken Teens Left in Wake of Private Gain. Chicago Tribune.
Shepherd, Robert. 1999. The Juvenile Court at 100: Birthday Cake or Funeral Pyre? Criminal Justice, Vol. 13, No. 4
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