The Juvenile Justice System in the U.S.


The present civilization has started considering the constitutional rights that ultimately support them from exploitation and impairment, as granted. The advancement of law and policies has changed the ethical standard of the general public. Thus, today the civilians live a better life with higher standard of living than the past. While thriving for a harder living, not only the adults were experiencing the exploitation, but also the children were treated worse. Not only the individual treatment, but also the special care and attention were missed out by these children. The lack of proper discipline too constituted abuse of the children. Therefore, society took initiative in creating policies and techniques to control and penalize the problematic children. Conceivably one of the most severe improvements included the curing of serious child criminal.

Main body

The Juvenile justice system was introduced in late 1800’s improving the US policies to observe the child offenders. Chicago witnessed the first Juvenile court in 1899. The main aim behind setting the court was to restore the Parens Patriae concept. The Parens Patriae concept relates to being proxy parents to children in need of their help than being too harsh and cruel while dealing with them. This eventually has led to improve the moral values and up bring a healthy adulthood by rectifying the problems. The present generation argues that the Juvenile Justice System needs to be eliminated and it needs to be incorporated back with the adult criminal Justice System. But today the Juvenile Justice System functions as an individual system from that of the Adult Criminal Courts. In fact it is those differences that create disagreement in upholding separate treatment of Juveniles from adult offenders. The societies dealing with these categories of children play a crucial role. Many programs for instance like drug rehabilitation center, continuation of education, managing temper, and after care activities can, to an extent counter the status offenders. This is one of the bases of the Parens Patriae concept and an apprehension for the Criminal Justice System in common (Michelle 2006).

Eventually the juvenile court established, had the responsibility of Parens Patriae in shaping the best for the child who breaches the law. There was unofficial processing, which significantly depended upon the determination of the court. During recent years there has been an increase in the number of juveniles diverted from the juvenile justice system, which have replicated in the decrease in the number of juveniles legitimately. This diversion was towards the theory that a court encounter is intrinsically unsafe. There is a fear existing that the diversion system may deteriorate in to an informal and illogical process. In advance there is no specific agreement towards which models of conduct are more efficient. Even with regard to the instruments used to measure the types of treatments used are lacking (Watson 1982).

The American goal of setting the Juvenile justice system is to maintain a safe society and reform the delinquent youth. Unfortunately due to the deficiency in fund and proper policies it was unable to establish the proper programs to attain these goals. While the precautionary and reformative measures have shown a decrease in the child offences, the outcomes of such programs may take years to give effect. It is viewed that due to certain actions from the authorities part the citizen are safe but unless the policies are ratified the number of crimes may continue to increase.

The Juvenile justice system was introduced during the progressive era, a period when the social reforms took place in United States. Primarily it was set to assist the anti social youth, which were being treated with in the Adult System. Since then there were number of programs introduced where by vast reformation in the policies were too made. The late 1990’s saw the gun control law that was seriously debated for school safety. The Juvenile justice system has been studied and adjusted towards specific success. In its earlier stages the system faced discouraging popularity of crimes, due to lack of proper funding and reformatory programs. But later due to the change in policies and developments the results showed a positive outcome. The proper researches towards the policies and strategies have led to the decrease in the number of crime rate in the coming years. Through the initiative taken to set up the anti-crime programs to cope the local needs, the leaders have created a glut of information on which the programs work. The Current policy aims at balancing the safety of the public through the reformation of youth (The Juvenile Justice System).

The development of Juvenile justice has been aggravated by the generous intention that have effected in the counter productive systems and the unkind behavior of children. The Due process has been bounded by the Parens Patriae concept. The approach of Supreme Court to request for the Due Process in Juvenile dealings discloses an effort to maximize the efficiency of the reality- discovering process without disappointing the reformatory standards of the Juvenile justice system. The Parens Patriae though not identical with uncertainty, is allowed to bind the Due Process, when a reformatory goal is promoted. The degree of Due Process decided in Juvenile Court is resulted by the level of loss to the child and the concern of the State in précis arbitration (Breed & Voss. 1978 P:641-671).

The “in re” Gault stands as a significant component of the “Due process revolution” that took place during 1960’s. The first encounter with law for Gerald Gault took place when he was pulled out by the police for having friendship with another boy who had stolen the wallet from a lady. As an outcome he was ordered six month probation, which was entered against him during 1964. During this period Gault was taken in to custody by Arizona police for having made supposedly an obscene call to the neighbor. Both of his parents were at their work place when he was taken in to custody. His parents were not informed of this incident. The next day, during the hearing Gault was accompanied by his mother and elder brother, but not by the counsel. Even after a week too, he appeared before the court for the hearing without a proper lawyer. Without a lawyer and depressed of an opportunity to deal with, Gault was found guilty in taken part in the phone call. For a period of six years Gault was affirmed Juvenile delinquent and was sent to the State Industrial School. They permitted no appeals for the juvenile cases. Finally a petition of habeas corpus was filed in the State Supreme court that was passed on to the trial court, requesting the release of Gault, on the ground that he was unlawfully held in custody. When that was rejected, the decision was appealed to the Arizona Supreme Court, which refused to let go Gault. At last his parents appealed to the U.S Supreme court, which considered the matter as “in re”, which means that in a non adversarial happenings that need only lawful verdict, not full the legal action. Starting from the twentieth century, the juvenile defenders had been subjected to Parens Patriae, which was a defensive outlook towards the disruptive children. Accordingly a new Justice system aiming the flexibility and informality was developed. Frequently this system resulted in the failure of Due process for the defendants who were the subject matter to it. Gerald Gault was evidently made a victim by this arrangement. He faced the situation for 6 years of internment under this case. This led to extending the assured rights of Juvenile criminals facing the refutation of their independence. This was based on the rights guaranteed to adult criminal through the Due Process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. With in all these amendments the Juvenile system sustained to function (In re Gault).

There is an indisputable link between drug abuse and crime. The detainment, arbitration and involvement of the juvenile justice system are the penalties for many youth engaged in the consumption of alcohol and other such drugs. It cannot be argued that the consumption of these substances causes criminal behavior, or that the criminal behavior leads to the consumption of these drugs. Still the two events are strongly correlated and often they creates problem in the society and peer groups. The possession of these substances is lawfully illegal while considering the age group of the youth. There is also strong evidence that there is a correlation in between the drug use and the criminal behavior among the juveniles. This consumption is associated with both the violence and income generating crimes by the youth which in turn increases problems among the general community. Drug trafficking, prostitution, and increasing number of the youth slaughter are among the social and criminal justice problems that often strikes among the adolescent substance abuse (Consequences of youth substance abuse).

Since 1990, the Zero tolerance policies or School disciplinary policies authorizing preset punishments for definite student offences have contented to be an accepted penalizing alternative throughout the country. This law was derived out of the 1994 Federal Gun Free Schools Act. The main aim behind accepting the new policy was to guarantee secured schools and sound disciplined students. This had led the school leaders and the courts to reconsider the degree of Due Process provided in long term deferments, including the Zero tolerance disciplinary policies. Children are hardly able to afford the benefit of substantive Due Process considerations, which decide whether the corrective action fit the crime. Decatur, Illinois viewed one of the typical publicized Zero tolerance controversy. It was seven African-American high school students of The Decatur Public School Board of Education, who received 2 years discharge under the School Boards Zero Tolerance policy for fighting at a school football game. A student filed a suit against this. The main subject matter was, whether the Zero tolerance policy for violence have debased the six students technical and substantive Due Process Rights. Later in 2000, the U.S District Judge lined and supported the tolerance punishment of the students based on definite official grounds. The court was careful in their roles in legal issues involving the school discipline. Still the long lasting suspensions and removal demanded consideration to higher degree of student Due Process, counting both the minimal and substantive Due Process. In the course of the assessment of Due Process in zero tolerance suspensions, a realistic argument is to be made for the schools and courts, to reassess the level of Due Process, provided students focused to school disciplinary process (Brady 2002 P:2 to 10).


People require a second chance to endure in the real world. Children due to their juvenile behavior are unaware of these facts. The penalty and the shame involved in the adult process can delay the economic development of children involved in adult crimes. Even the background checks in jobs involving the criminal character, in long run will avert young children and adults from being successful individuals. The Parens Patriae model is an important concept that needs to be included in the Juvenile Court System happenings. Here the children are not adults and they ought to have a separate system in having not only the penalty but also the reformatory opportunities to build themselves to mature adults. Even the awareness of serious criminal acts is too looked in to. None of the society wants the children to commit such severe crimes at that early young age that calls for much severe punishments. Here the society needs to have proper policies to uplift them. Here each case needs to be analyzed in the light of the child’s life progress. The main point to be considered by the society is to decide upon the right time to stop being the parent to a minor. Here society’s contribution in the form of various programmes is very much helpful. For the time being the Juvenile Justice System provide a main purpose in juvenile crimes. To an extent than abolition and reincorporation in to the Adult Criminal Justice system, more of funding and initiatives in executing social programs offer the Parens Patriae concept in to reformation of the children (Michelle 2006).

Works cited

Brady,Kevin. 2002. Weapons of Choice: Zero Tolerance School Discipline Policies and the Limitations of Student Procedural Due Process. Vol:22 Iss:1 P:2 to 10. (online). 2008. Web.

Breed & Voss. 1978. Procedural Due Process In The Discipline Of Incarcerated Juveniles. Vol:5 Iss:3 (1978) P:641-671. (online). 2008. Web.

Consequences of youth substance abuse. (online). 2008. Web.

Calderon, Michelle 2006. A Reflective Comparison of the Juvenile Criminal Justice System v. the Adult criminal justice system (online). 2008. Web.

In re Gault. (online). 2008. Web.

The Juvenile Justice System. (online). 2008. Web.

Watson. 1982. Juvenile Justice in America – An Overview. (online). 2008. Web.

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1. LawBirdie. "The Juvenile Justice System in the U.S." March 27, 2023.


LawBirdie. "The Juvenile Justice System in the U.S." March 27, 2023.