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Case Study of the Juvenile Justice System Functioning

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Eearly life experiences influence adult behavior. Criminal behavior is nothing more than copying or learning criminal acts from others. This statement relates to my sisters case the most. Once she started to hang around these friends she started to act differently and do things she has never done before. By using the social learning theory it can become apparent that my sister learned these criminal behaviors by watching her friends do it.

How to deal with juvenile offenders. The question arises how to deal with juvenile offenders?

The first is rehabilitation model, where the juvenile has the opportunity to change his/her ways and not act out in delinquent acts again. Another one called treatment or medical model, treats juvenile delinquent like it is a disease. They act as if these juveniles cannot be changes without heavily treating them in therapy or medication. The next model for dealing with juvenile offenders is the due process model. This model believes that the best interest of the juvenile should be sought while providing fundamental fairness while prosecuting the child. Just desserts or justice model holds juveniles accountable in order to punish them. A way to contain the most dangerous juvenile offenders to protect the public is by using the crime control model. The last model is restorative justice model, this is where a meeting between the victim and the offender is set up to talk about what they would like to see happen to the offender. The rehabilitation model goes along with my sisters case the best, since she was given the opportunity to be rehabilitated and not just simply incarcerated for her actions.

At the beginning of juvenile justice system, juveniles were not given the same rights as adults. They were not made aware of their rights or that they fully understood them. Juveniles were not made aware to the full extent that their parents could be in the room during the interview, that they did have a right to an attorney and that they could remain silent. This all started to change in the 1960’s. Now juveniles have the same rights as adults, they have the right to a phone call, counsel, notice of charge(s), cross-examine witnesses, and protection against self-incrimination. With the doctrine parents patriae, it allowed the state to step in as a guardian for children, when their parents are not able to be there. One landmark case surrounding juveniles rights is In Re Gault. This case was brought all the way to the supreme court and ruled that juveniles have a right to; notice of the charges, right to a counsel, right to cross-examine witnesses, and the right to protection against self-incrimination. This case is a very important case involving juveniles rights, since it was the first time these rights were made to be presented to juvenile offenders. In my sisters case, she was made aware of her rights during her arrest, and she was allowed a phone call to our parents to notify them what has happened. She was also made aware that she had the right to an attorney and what charges were being brought against her.

Police officers have to use their discretion for every part of their job while interacting with a citizen. Discretionary powers allowed police officers to choose among a range of alternatives in dealing with a particular situation. They also have the authority to use force when needed. When police officers are dealing with juveniles who have committed shoplifting offenses, they use their discretion to decide whether or not to arrest the juvenile. If a juvenile committed a minor theft, then the police office using his/her discretion can decide if the juvenile should be able to just return the items to the store or if charges should be brought against the juvenile. If a juvenile is caught stealing thousands of dollars’ worth of merchandise than the officer will not have that much discretion in the decision. In my sisters case the police officer did not have that much discretion since the store owner demanded to press charges against her, this is another situation where police officers do not have that much power in the final decision.

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Once a juvenile is taken to the police station, they go through the intake process. An in-take officer reviews the case and speaks to the juvenile and their parents/guardian to see what has happened. The intake officer decides whether or not the case can be solved outside the system or if it should be handled without taking it to court. For less serious shoplifting offenses intake officers are able to solve the cases themselves. For more serious offenses they will need to send the case to court in order for it to be solved. A case can be solved by speaking to the juveniles parents, their probation officer who will be looking over him/her during the time on probation and even by talking to their school. Other than just talking to the people around the juvenile, a lot of legal factors are taken into consideration when trying to solve a case. The seriousness of the offense matters, since if no one was physically harmed during the crime; it can be easier to solve. The type of crime that was committed also matters, since if it was violent crime or a felony it will most likely be brought to court. Another important legal factor is the evidence. Whether it is inculpatory which tends to show the juveniles guilty or if its exculpatory evidence which show the juveniles innocence. The last important legal factor is the prior record of the juvenile, whether or not he/she is a repeat offender or if it’s their first offense. In my sisters case, no one was physically harmed, there was inculpatory evidence, and she does not have a prior record, these are all things that can help or not help her case. Being that she was caught with the items on her person can be one thing that does not help her show that she will never commit this crime again. Legal factors are very important when reviewing a case, since they show how guilty someone is or how innocent someone may be.

When dealing with juvenile offenders there are a lot of decisions to be made in each case. To allow prosecutors to have more discretion states have come up with statutes that help prosecutors see what type of cases should be sent to adult court and ones that should stay in juvenile court. Over the last several decades court prosecutors have adjusted their direction towards the treatment of juvenile defendants. This allows them to have more say in what court the juvenile should be in. Juveniles do not have any federal constitutional rights to a speedy trial. The supreme court has not decided on a case that would permit juveniles to a speedy trial. However a case of Barker v. Wingo established the Barker balancing test. This is speedy trial standard where delays are considered in terms of the reason or length, in accordance with time standards that have been established through an interpretation of the sixth amendment. Even though the Barker decision does not include juveniles, states do attempt to conduct the adjudicatory hearing as quickly as they can. Just like adults juveniles are allowed an attorney, if they cannot afford one a public defender is appointed to them. The role of the private or public attorney is to advocate for the juveniles. To try their best to get the best result possible for the juvenile. They also ensure that the youth is protected, explained the complexities of the process, and long-term effects of the court has on the juvenile. The prosecutor, a speedy trial and a good attorney are all important aspects to have to allow juvenile to get the best outcome from the criminal justice system. With my sister, she was able to stay in juvenile court after a prosecutor went over her case. She was also very fortunate to be able to have a private attorney to help make sure she felt safe and understood what was happening throughout the entire case. She was also able to have a fast trial being that it was her first offense and she only had a low amount of merchandise of her person. These things allowed my sister and family to go through the justice system smoothly and quickly.

In juvenile court especially in New Jersey shoplifting is seen as a serious crime. The more the value is worth the more likely he/she will be sent up to criminal court. Also a juvenile can be sent up to adult court based of his/her age, in New Jersey a juvenile must be 16 in order to be waived up to adult court. One type of waiver is a judicial waiver, this is a decision by a juvenile judge to waive a juvenile up to adult court. Another one is discretionary waiver, which is when a juvenile is transferred up to adult court by judges, based on their discretion or judgment. Mandatory waiver is an automatic transfer for certain juvenile up to adult court based on their age and seriousness of the crime. Presumptive waiver is a requirement that shifts the burden to juveniles for defending against their transfer to adult court by showing that they can be rehabilitated (Merlo, 54). The next waiver is a direct file, this is when an action is taken against a juvenile who has committed a serious offense. Their case is transferred up to adult court for the purpose of a criminal prosecution. Another one is a legislative waiver; this is a legislative mandate that requires certain juveniles sent to adult court based on their offense. A demand waiver is requested by the juveniles to have their cases transferred up to adult court. The last one is reverse waiver; it is a motion to transfer a case back down to juvenile court following a legislative or automatic waiver. Another part of the process of sentencing a juvenile is blended sentencing statues. This allows a judge to use resources from both the juvenile and adult justice system. In New Jersey we do not have blended sentencing. Based on my sisters case none of these apply to her, since her case was never going to brought up to adult court.

Just like adults juvenile go through probation and other community-based corrections. Unlike adults on probation juvenile rarely see their officers in person, the mostly communicate through email, phone or even a letter. Probation is the most commonly used alternative punishment for juveniles. Standard probation does not involve incarceration and it is usually followed after adjudication of delinquency. Besides standard probation other punishments are used. Intermediate punishments are the middle ground between incarceration and probation/parole. Juveniles may be released back into the community, but they are subjected to very strict guidelines and conditions. Some types of intermediate punishments include; intensive supervision, electronic monitoring, community service, drug testing, and fines or restitution. These alternatives allow to prison and jails from overcrowding, and they also allow the juveniles to be rehabilitated faster. They also provide resources and facilities to juveniles who are considered a risk of becoming delinquent or are already delinquent. My sister was subjected to alternative punishments, being that she was not sent to jail. They sentenced her to a month of community service and a fine of $300.

There are many goals of the juvenile corrections that help keep juveniles from getting into trouble or getting into more trouble. To start, deterrence is a belief that the threat of specific sanctions might prevent other juveniles from committing acts of delinquent behavior. By giving delinquent juveniles pretty severe sentences, it will hopefully be deterred other juveniles from committing the same acts or crimes. Another goal is rehabilitation and reintegration, this is when the juvenile justice system believes juveniles are amenable to treatment and reform. Many years ago adults believed that juveniles were not able to be rehabilited back into society, but now they see that juveniles can in fact be reintegrated into society. Some other goals are retribution, it is manifested from the get-tough policy. Where the number of juveniles that are getting sent up to adult court is rising, and these juveniles are receiving more harsher punishments. The last one is incapacitation, where juvenile offenders especially chronic recidivist are isolated for a longer amount of time to limit their opportunity to reoffend. With my sister the juvenile court saw that she could be rehabilitated and reintegrated back into society. Since they saw that she had a good family role in her life and that she does not seem to be the type of juvenile who will reoffend.

The juvenile justice system has come a long way throughout the years, being that juveniles are now seen as people who are not the same as adults but also someone who can think for themselves; and be rehabilitated back into the community. After my sister was caught shoplifting a small amount of merchandise, she was able to be seen as a juvenile who can be rehabilitated back into the community. Her case was not sent up the adult court and being that it was her first offense, the system saw that she will not be someone who will reoffend and end up back into the system. Shoplifting in New Jersey is seen as a serious offense and one that is not taken lightly. To deprive a store owner of the merchandise use or benefit is one way the shoplifting offense is defined. My sister’s case was a pretty easy case to solve. Since she was caught with the merchandise on her person, the value was $150, and it was her first offense; the justice system did not send her to jail but instead used other means of punishment. She was sentences to community service and fined a $300 fine for stealing the merchandise. There are many other juveniles who are just like my sister who happened to get caught up hanging around the wrong crowd and get pressured into doing acts or crimes they would not normally do. These juveniles are the perfect example as to why juveniles now have many rights and many other types of punishments that allow them to be reintegrated back into society. It also allows them to prove to adults that not all juvenile offenders will reoffend and do in fact change their live after committing a crime.

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Case Study of the Juvenile Justice System Functioning. (2022, September 01). Edubirdie. Retrieved January 29, 2023, from
“Case Study of the Juvenile Justice System Functioning.” Edubirdie, 01 Sept. 2022,
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Case Study of the Juvenile Justice System Functioning [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Sept 01 [cited 2023 Jan 29]. Available from:
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