Components of the Juvenile Justice System

The United States Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention tries to balance the rights of youths and the safety of the community.
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Historically, juvenile offenders were brought home to be disciplined by their parents. In 1824, the first juvenile detention center, called the House of Refuge, opened in New York state. It was a place for delinquents as well as poor children and orphans. The goal of the House of Refuge was to prevent children from becoming adult criminals and to reform those who had already committed crimes, according to the Education State University website.

Law Enforcement

Status offenses, such as running away, are often subject to juvenile detention.

Juveniles may come into contact with police for status offenses or criminal behavior. The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention states that "at arrest, a decision is made either to send the matter further into the justice system or to divert the case out of the system, often into alternative programs." The OJJSD states that "law enforcement makes this decision, after talking to the victim, the juvenile, and the parents," and after reviewing the juvenile's history.

Juvenile Court

Juvenile court gives youths (juveniles) due process of the law.

The 1899 Illinois Juvenile Court Act created America's first juvenile court. Set apart from adult court, Juvenile court was intended to provide individualized treatment yet, often the lack of due process procedures violated individual rights, according to the Education State University website. In Kent v. United States, a 1966 case, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the informal juvenile court methods did not allow juveniles the due process protection that adults receive. Therefore, the legal rights given to adults were also given to minors. Today, juvenile courts try to use diversion programs or drug court programs to help juveniles, rather than incarcerate youths if they can be successfully rehabilitated.

Read More: The Disadvantages of the Juvenile Court System

Juvenile Corrections

California Youth Authority houses violent and repeat juvenile offenders.

Juvenile Halls or detention centers are temporary placements for arrested youth, offenders awaiting court hearings or for those having no other suitable placement. Serious juvenile offenders are typically placed in Youth Authority facilities, such as those in California and Oregon. According to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, "95 percent of new Department of Juvenile Justice commitments have a history of serious and violent crimes while those who have been adjudicated of less serious drug and property crimes have been diverted to county facilities."

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