A Just Juvenile Justice System

The juvenile justice system and its courts are in place in each state in order to promote justice in the punishment of delinquent youths. Among every state, every city, every county and every individual court, there is a common goal of doing what is best for both the child and for the community. Judges are to reach a judgment that can punish a youth for his or her wrong, but even more so, punish them in order to prevent future crimes.  The juvenile justice system is meant to punish according to the individual needs of each and every delinquent. The authors of Juvenile Justice: A Social, Historical and Legal Perspective believe the use of the term “ juvenile justice system” is misleading. They believe the variation that extends from practice being at the discretion of police, district attorneys, and probation officers is broader than a system should allow for.  “System” to the authors is a misnomer, because each practitioner has his or her own juvenile justice ideology. To me, variation is the beauty of having a separate system for treating juveniles. The “system” is in place in order for each delinquent to be dealt with in a manner that is best suited to rehabilitate the youth – no matter who is within the system, what punishments it provides for, or the procedure the courts or correctional facilities lay out. The system is in place to differentiate youth crimes from adult crimes. If there is variation, it is because the needs of the youth are factors in determining the sentence then the system is functioning in its proper capacity.  It is when the juvenile justice system does not properly look at and properly punish each adolescent that comes before its courts that the true purpose of the system is not served. Currently in New York 81% of youths are rearrested within three years. This is believed to be so because courts send the sentenced to remote rural facilities which are far from the family support youth need and far from a school to provide the educational children require. When they return to the cities, most are further behind the eight ball than when they started. Surely, this cannot help in youth rehabilitation. Mayor Bloomberg plans to reform the correctional system by transferring facilities to local areas, as well as, set a rate structure freeing up resources to fund local facilities and community-based programs.However, this is not enough to bring the recidivism rate down.  It is not merely about changing the facilities where delinquents are brought to sit out their time once they have been sentenced that will correct the system. In order to evoke change in the youth, the system must start by altering when they get involved. The juvenile justice system should work on identifying risk factors and use protective measures to reduce juvenile involvement. Although prevention does usurp city resources, it is certainly less than the amount used in order to rehabilitate the youth.Secondly, the courts should consider the time between when a juvenile is deemed a delinquent to when he is being sentenced an “examination period.” The system should mentor that delinquent on issues he or she must work through and the mentor should aim to learn about the root of delinquents problems. After learning about the youth, the mentor should work with the judge in order to determine the sentence that will best suit the needs of the delinquent. The mentor and judge should work to determine whether the youth would be best served by having sentencing time, community service, or a combination of the two. Additionally, after sentencing the mentor should continue tracking the delinquent to see whether there is improvement. If there is significant change for the better, it is worthwhile for the judge to alter the initial sentencing, or permit that the sentence not go on record. If there is no change, or the situation has worsened it may be beneficial to alter the initial punishment.  To sum up, juvenile justice is considered just if it continues to alter to the needs of the youth. It is unjust to have delinquents, who have significantly altered their life, to be left with a criminal stigma and become an outcast, because of a mistake make when they were in a transitional phase in life. If, as youngsters, they were able to work out their issues and later become contributing member of society, so too should society enable them to do so.