The Role of Police, Courts and Department of Corrections in the Juvenile Justice System The juvenile justice system brings the juvenile delinquent in contact with the local police, the court system and if found guilty, the Department of Corrections. This paper will discuss the role of the police, the courts and the Department of Corrections in the juvenile justice system, and which method best reduces future recidivism of juvenile delinquency. The role of the police in cases concerning juvenile delinquency is influenced by factors such as individual, sociocultural, and organizational, allowing the officer to choose a more or less restrictive response to an individual offender. This allows the police officer responding to use discretion, which is important since the officer will act as a court of first instance in initially categorizing the juvenile (Bartollas, C. 2001). The amount of discretion the responding officer shows depends on the officer’s disposition of the juvenile offender determined by eleven factors which are: offense, citizen complaints, gender, race, socioeconomic status, individual characteristics of the juvenile, police-juvenile interactions, demeanor, police officer’s personality, departmental policy, and external pressure (Bartollas, C. 2011). Each factor will play into how the responding officer handles the situation.
This policy of allowing the officer to use his/her discretion has come under attack with some of the populace believing that the police abuse this discretion. Although a study conducted in 2004 by Stephanie M. Myers reporting on data collected for the Project on Policing Neighborhoods (POPN), a study of police in Indianapolis, Indiana, and St. Petersburg, Florida, only eighty-four (13%) of the six hundred fifty-four juveniles were arrested (Bartollas, C. 2011). This shows that the majority of the interactions between police and juveniles are impersonal and nonofficial, with the officer issuing simple orders such as “Go home” or Break it up”. Once the juvenile has been detained and summoned into the juvenile court system, the court system follows the basic ideals: that the court should function as a social clinic designed to serve in the best interest of the youth in trouble; that the youths should be given the same care, supervision, and discipline as a good parent would provide; that the aim of the court is to help, to restore, to guide, and to forgive; that the youths should not be treated as criminals; and that the right to shelter, protection, and proper guardianship are the only rights of youths (Bartollas, C. 2011). Under these guidelines the courts tries and sentences the juvenile in the best possible way to rehabilitate and reform the youth. There have been numerous changes in the juvenile court system in order to allow the system to become different than that of the adult court system.
Once sentence into the juvenile corrections system the judge has different options, other than the traditional adult facilities to send the juvenile to in order to insure the best possible form of rehabilitation and reform option to the child. This can be probation, residential or day treatment facilities, or a form of institutional placement. Each option involves different options within the category to allow for the youth to receive the best possible means of rehabilitation for them. In the instant of probation the child can be put on strictly probation in which they will be released back into the community but will be under the supervision of a probation officer and subject to certain conditions imposed by the court, or can be sentenced to perform community service in which the juvenile will spend a certain number of hours working on a community project in order to better the community. With all the options for rehabilitation and reform available for a juvenile delinquent, I personally believe that the most effective form is that of community-based corrections. In this form of rehabilitation and reform it keeps the juvenile out of training schools, jails, and adult programs. The programs available in the community-based corrections also allows for aftercare to allow the juvenile justice system a means of insuring that the juvenile is continuing to stay out of trouble. While still being able to provide the juvenile help and resources to continue to be able to become a member of the community.
Bartollas, C & Schmalleger, F. (2011). Juvenile Delinquency. (8th ed.). Prentice Hall. Retrievedfrom