The treatment of juvenile delinquents has been a contentious subject for a long time, with different views regarding their trial and treatment as adults, while others argue that juveniles should not be subjected to the adult criminal justice system. The juvenile criminal justice system was fundamentally established to deal with juvenile offenders who have committed offenses that require imprisonment (Regoli and Hewitt 23). The underlying argument is that juvenile offenders have a high probability of rehabilitation compared to adult criminals. Those opposing the juvenile system consent that t is an effective way of administering punishment, based on the argument that an adult crime requires adult time. The criminal justice system has the responsibility of ensuring public safety and administering corrective strategies, however, this is not the case in most cases. This is evident due to the stringent punitive nature of punishment administration in the criminal justice system. This essay attempts to argue against the juvenile being subjected in the adult criminal justice system.
The juvenile justice system was primarily established to protect and help delinquents from the influence of adult offenders, to divert juvenile offenders from the criminal courts with the sole objective of reinforcing rehabilitation. The major reason is to foster rehabilitation rather than punishment towards a juvenile who still has space to reform. Subjecting juvenile delinquents to the adult criminal justice system is not justified due to the fact that the adult justice system has the main objective of administering punishment rather than rehabilitation. It is important to distinguish under what circumstances a crime can be termed as an adult crime or a juvenile crime, and the principal social factors that lead to the causes of juvenile crime. In the present juvenile system, the offenders are first classified as children before being categorized as criminals; this implies that the juvenile system is focused more on rehabilitation rather than punishment of the juveniles (DeLisi 89). The juveniles deserve no punishment in the first place, they deserve correction and rehabilitation measures to avoid them growing up in criminal activities. In addition, the juvenile justice system is efficient and can be trusted to administer effective punishment and the required rehabilitation to the juveniles who commit crimes. Subjecting juveniles to the adult criminal justice system implies that there is no clear difference in terms of age when it comes to criminal activities; what is ultimately important is the need for effective corrective strategies rather than punitive punishment, with a keen consideration of age based on the fact that juveniles have a high percent chance of reforming their deviant behavior. This point of argument does not put into consideration the way of thinking for the juveniles but rather emphasizes the adult’s mind and ideologies. Except for criminal cases that are a serious threat to public safety, and when the corrective strategies cannot prove effective in dealing with such cases, is when it is justified to try the juvenile in an adult criminal justice system.
Another important issue to take into account when trying juvenile in an adult criminal justice system is the principal social factors that make youths indulges in deviant behavior and crime. A sociological approach to criminology reveals that the decision-making deployed by the juveniles contains some elements of emotional influence and immaturity with respect to cognitive factors. A typical scenario is to analyze the differences in actions that both juveniles and adults will undertake if they are found in the same situation. Despite the intrinsic ability to distinguish between good and bad actions, their inconsistency in decision making does not put them in a position to be judged as adults if they were to be tried in the same criminal justice system. With this regard, it is widely evident that juveniles lack the moral capacity to comprehend the implications of their actions and choices; implying that juveniles cannot be tried in the same adult system as adult offenders who have the intellectual capacity to understand the outcomes of their bad actions. In most cases, a juvenile’s involvement in crime is due to peer and social pressure, and the societal changes that are currently being witnessed (Walklate 89).
The efficiency of the juvenile justice system is a reason enough not to try juveniles in an adult criminal justice system. Research studies have reported that the rates of recidivism of juveniles tried in the juvenile system are significantly lower compared to the rates of recidivism of juveniles tried in the adult criminal justice system. This denotes the effectiveness of the juvenile system in dealing with juvenile crime compared to the effectiveness of the adult criminal justice system in dealing with juvenile crime. In addition, the case proceedings in a juvenile court follow the same standard proceedings practiced in adult courts; this implies the lack of unjust treatment in the juvenile justice system. The only difference is the underlying objectives in terms of administering punishment and fostering rehabilitation. In such a case whereby a juvenile offender is transferred to an adult criminal court, judges are bound to lose their prudence regarding the issuance of an appropriate criminal sentence. This is evident in cases characterized by mandatory sentences and lack of parole in sentences. Another added advantage of using the juvenile court is that they are economical, compared to subjecting a juvenile offender in an adult criminal justice system.
The efficiency of using adult jurisdiction when trying juveniles is also an important factor to take into account when advocating for the use of juvenile courts. Certain aspects of the adult criminal court such as capital punishment and long sentences are not appropriate for juvenile offenders, taking into account the fact that juveniles still have a chance of reformation. It is arguably evident that a juvenile tried in an adult court will face incarceration. As a result, the juvenile is susceptible to the criminal culture evident in the prison system (Regoli and Hewitt 102). The outcome of this is that it tends to have worse re-educative criminal effects on the juvenile. For instance, a juvenile is more susceptible to the activities of gang violence and prison rape, due to the criminal culture of the adult prison system.
A critical analysis of the above reveals that subjecting juveniles to adult criminal courts is an effective approach to crime deterrence. In fact, the consequences of the adult criminal justice system to juveniles are bound to worsen their indulgence in crime. Therefore, the juvenile should not be tried in the adult court; instead, the justice system should make effective use of the juvenile courts. Considering the effectiveness of the juvenile justice system, societal changes do warrant the need for changes in the juvenile system but do not warrant the treatment of a juvenile at the same capacity as an adult criminal.
DeLisi, Matt. Career Criminals in Society. London: Sage Publications, 2005. Print.
Regoli, Robert and John Hewitt. Deliquency in Society. New York: Prentice Hall, 2006. Print.
Walklate, Samuel. Understanding Criminology – Current Theoretical Debates. Maidenhead: Open University Press, 2003. Print.