Jan 12, 2018 in Law

Juvenile Justice System of the Future


A new century has come along with numerous challenges including increased juvenile crime. Increasing rates of youth crime over years has led to a conclusion that the existing juvenile justice system is ineffective. Policy makers have argued that instead of making the system more punitive, there is a need develop the system in a way that it is more rehabilitative. Consequently, there is a need to revamp the existing juvenile justice system to make it more effective in reduction of juvenile crime. An effective juvenile system for the future should meet specified goals. For instance, there has to be immediate, as well as appropriate sanctions to reported cases, protection of communities, provision of effective treatment, and building public confidence in the system in place. Additionally, there is a need for passing sentences on the basis of a child’s individual character, life circumstances, age and the circumstances under which a crime was committed. In essence, reforming the juvenile justice system will make rehabilitative other than being cruel through issuing unusual punishment to offenders. In the revitalization of the juvenile justice system, there are a number of guiding principles to be used. According to the University of Virginia Law Professor Richard Bonnie, in an article titled “Juvenile Justice System Must Be Overhauled”, juvenile justice system reforming has to be based on the principle of “accountability without criminalization”. As such, children have to be held accountable for their actions. On the other hand, an effective and viable juvenile justice system should hold the children’s parents accountable for the well-being of their young ones.  

Today’s System

At the moment, there are numerous rehabilitative programs established by the existing juvenile justice systems worldwide. As such, there is a change in the operation of the system with an aim of changing the community. Efforts endeavor to protect public safety through the provision of effective and rehabilitative services that support children found to engage in delinquent behavior. Children in the future juvenile justice system are no longer to be seen as problems but rather as people with strengths that can be an asset to the larger society. These strengths can be harnessed to benefit the society through meeting the needs of these children in correctional facilities (McNeill, 2012). On the other hand, the current juvenile justice system can be said to be somehow ineffective. Thus, you find that many juvenile offences rarely reach the juvenile court. Many at times, these cases are solved in an informal manner. Social workers involved include child protection officers and probation officials. Nevertheless, only those cases deemed serious are filed in a juvenile court. However, efforts are underway to ensure all cases receive appropriate attention from the concerned authorities. This will ensure increased responsibility and accountability by the offenders. Additionally, the ineffectiveness of the current system is due to the fact that there are increased cases of reoffending in society.

Objectives of the juvenile justice system

For the future juvenile justice system to be effective, it should have in place a mechanism to hold offenders accountable for their actions. Additionally, the system should be rehabilitative enough to ensure juveniles are empowered to be productive, as well as responsible citizens. Furthermore, the system should aim at helping children to be productive in society. This is through formulation of rehabilitative programs that reduces cases of reoffending. To achieve this, children should be taught to be accountable for their actions. Another key objective should be empowering children so that they can self-reliant society. To add on this, the juvenile justice system has to ensure the safety of the community as a whole. An effective justice system should address traumas that children go through, other than exacerbating this.

Measuring Success

Success of a system established is based on assessing to see if set goals and objectives have been met. For instance, in the case of an effective juvenile justice system, success can be measured in various ways. Through having a comprehensive mechanism that assesses juveniles. This is by examining the juvenile to see if there are any notable changes in the character of a juvenile since their entry into the system. This helps in determining the risk on the community as a whole, as well as having appropriate interventions and sanctions. Interventions here could include instituting a mentoring mechanism in place to reduce cases of reoffending. Thus, for a system to be functional, it should achieve its set goals and objectives. In the case of the juvenile justice, it should be able to rehabilitate juveniles so that they fit in the large community. Policy makers can determine if the system is a success by examining cases of reoffending. Reduced cases of reoffending show that the system is functioning properly and juveniles have become responsible. If the juveniles fit into community, it means that the system has achieved its objective of ensuring safety in the community. Additionally, if the children are productive in society, it shows that the system has been a success (McNeill, 2012). 

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