From 1899, the juvenile court has always handle three types of juvenile cases. These cases include: child neglect, abuse and other status offences. Juvenile delinquency cases are unlawful action that is performed by the minors which would therein be crimes if they were partaken by adults. Status offences are on the other hand noncriminal offences which are deemed offences if they are committed by the minors. The common examples of these status offences include running away and truancy. Till 1960s, both noncriminal and criminal behaviors were all considered to be forms of delinquents. Hence the law did not differentiate between delinquents and status offenders. In neglect and child abuse cases, the court will always provide protection for children who are abuse or neglected. In the year 1994, delinquency cases made up to 64% of the total juvenile cases in these courts, with status offences making 15% and neglect and abuse cases making 16% of the total national juvenile court cases.
I have discussed all these types of these cases below with the description of these court processes that are involved in the handling of these cases along with the current policy issues which are involved. It is worth noting that though these cases seem to be different from each other, there are some common themes and values which are applied in handling these cases. The most obvious of these is the judges which are handling these cases to note that these children need to be taken care of for their development in making legal decisions making much attention to the legal needs of children along with their families. Secondly, even if the court is one of the institutions that work to the betterment of the families and children, it is posed with a unique and awesome power in delinquency, child abuse cases and the status offences cases. Juvenile court has powers to separate the children from their parents, can also order these minors to live in confined places, also they can end the biological right of relationship between a child and the parent and create for them other new parental rights.
As these decisions are deemed to be very serious and fundamental to the well being of children, ensuring these courts possesses adequate resources is very vital as it handles every type of cases. Judges require information, workable facilities and adequate training so that it can be able to handle these cases in the most appropriate manner. Adequate representation of all the involved parties should always be in the court proceedings. All the communities need to have safe, effective program and placements which are available for children coming before the court. As it would be very clear from the subsequent discussion, these courts handle very difficult workloads and involves the most emotion laden and very controversial issues in most parts of the society. Because of this, these decisions have in many cases faced disagreements. The extent to which these cases should be equipped and expanded to equip them with the resources that are required for them to adequately perform their roles has formed basis of many discussions and debates.
Lastly, as these courts make decisions which are very vital in the societal development, they are most often the subject of the social media and in most cases form the basis for political platform. So judges should always have the urge to play leadership roles, both in the agencies which serve children and the broader community so as to encourage thoughtful and deliberative approaches to all these problems, instead of other approaches which are reached hastily.
The juvenile handling of the delinquent case is the one which is always handled by these courts in the general public perception. When unlawful deeds are committed by the minors, these cases are usually brought under these courts as delinquent cases. These cases in most cases include petty theft, misdemeanors, vandalism and also some kind of felonies like robbery and other aggravated assaults. The maximum age handled by these courts are typically determined by the state laws. In the District of Columbia and other 37 states, the maximum age for this is 17 years of age, in other 10 states it is 16 and in the rest 3 this is set to a maximum of 15 years.
Currently these courts have become the centre stage for public concern due to the increasing number of crimes and the high rate of juvenile related crimes. Recently these courts have been criticized for their perceived leniency towards their decision on these juvenile delinquents. One of the best examples of this is the inability of these courts failure to impose sentences that go beyond 21 years of age. High visibility and serious violent crimes that are committed by minors have always captured the public interests and attention drawing juvenile offenders’ treatment to get tougher on crimes that have been popular politically for the past twenty years.
This public fear of the juvenile court jurisdiction has resulted into some changes in the jurisdiction of the juvenile courts. Since 1992, the executive and the legislative branch in 41 states has hence limited the jurisdiction of the cases that involve chronic offenders, violent and shifted these court cases from their rehabilitative tradition which have involved addressing offenders rather than the offences which has been committed toward a more punitive system which is focused on the offence itself. For instance, 14 states in the year 1990 had to amend their codes to clearly list public safety as the sole purpose of the juvenile justice system; the punishment is listed as either primary or one of the several purposes of the court system in 28 states. The most significant thing that has happened since 1992 is that all but 10 states have structured adult courts in a manner that they can be able to handle juvenile cases. In most of the instances when the minors are convicted in the adult courts, it really posses a possibility that the minor may be sentenced to the prisons instead of being placed in juvenile facilities that offers rehabilitative programs.
Even though the violent juvenile cases grab most of the interest and headlines from the media and tend to have the highest influence on the justice system, most of the juvenile courts handle less serious crimes. Mostly, the highest numbers of cases that are handled by most of the juvenile courts involve cases like vandalism, motor vehicle theft in which they mostly belong to their parents and larceny cases. In 1992, police made a lot of juvenile arrests and contrary to the perception of the public; the most serious charge was a property offence charge in the 57% of the total cases. Offences against persons like assault and robberies comprised of 215 of the total cases, disorder conduct which is a form of public order offence showed to be like 17% of the cases with the 155 being taken by the drug law violation.
In spite of the young people being not disproportionately responsible for the most violent crimes, they always commit more than their share of property criminal offences. For instance in the year 1992, the youth aged between 10 to 17 years of age comprised 13 % of the US population and they were responsible for like the same percentage of their population of all the violent crimes which were committed in this year and they were responsible for more than 23% of the property crimes which is more than their proportion portion of their population.
Purpose of the research
Currently it has been more than 100th anniversary of these juvenile court approaches. This paper will provide an insight for the explanation of the cases that are handled by these courts along with the current trends and issues that have cropped up in these juvenile courts. The main goal of this research paper is to present an apparent description of these courts today and hence address the future challenges along with the recommendations to be adopted. This paper majorly addresses the court’s status and their ability to handle these cases along with the improvements that should be adopted for these courts to be able to partake their roles in the most appropriate manner.
The research methodology
In my data collection, I will employ both primary and secondary data methods of data collection.
Census- I will carry out census where I will talk to the many stakeholders and other involved associations and institutions although this method is somehow expensive because of the cost involved.
Samples- I will sample out some of the involved people and stakeholders
Observation- I will visit some of the juvenile courts to get the real state on the ground.
The secondary sources of data collection
Questionnaires- I will develop many questionnaires which I will use to get the information required to carry out my research.
Surveys- through the questionnaires, I will sample out and send some surveys to the stakeholders and these specialized institutions.
Books, web, magazines, journals and other online sources- I will use the already available written materials to get complete insights on this topic.
In my data analysis, I will include the following methods of data analysis
This is the most simple and widely employed method of data analysis. It can be defined as the systematic description of behavior which asks, who? Where and how? And what questions within a formulated set of rules so as to limit the effects of bias in analysis. It could be the most preferred technique which is employed to analyze semi-structured interviews and cognitive interview testing.
Narrative analysis- I will employ narrative analysis to analyze data where I will focus on the people’s stories and how they think about the issue in question. Although I will not treat these stories as the true facts I highly employ them to get how people think and feel about these juvenile courts.
3. Grounded Theory
This is the most standard and classical technique that is employed in analyzing social data. It uses hierarchical and systematic data set. It develops a set of inductively derived hypothesis that is grounded on the data.
In this method of data analysis I will combine both the quantitative and qualitative data analysis to come up with a precise data interpretation.
In my data presentation, I will employ many methods which would be very appropriate for this data.
Frequency distribution table
In this method I shall be focusing on the occurrence of a certain variable like a certain facility in the juvenile courts according to each state court system.
Here I will try to focus on the relationship of variables in the court system.
These will be used to show the extent to which a certain variable has been employed in the courts.
Julian Mack, The Chancery Procedure in the Juvenile Court, in The Child, The Clinic, and the Court (19’25), p. 310.
Julian Mack, The Juvenile Court, 23 Harv.L.Rev. 104, 119-120 (1909).Shears, Legal Problems Peculiar to Children’s Courts, 48 A.B.A.J. 719, 720 (1962)
January 2007 publication, California’s Criminal Justice system.Vitaly Friedman (2008) “Data Visualization and Infographics” in: Graphics, Monday Inspiration, January 14th, 2008.
Lengler, Ralph; Lengler, Ralph. “Periodic Table of Visualization Methods”