Reforming the Juvenile Justice System in the United StatesNorth Carolina Central UniversityMarch 29, 2020Abstract
The United States Juvenile Justice System has got a long history of shifting paradigms. Inthe early years, juvenile justice correctional efforts were punitive as evidenced by the use ofineffective warehouse types of institutions such as the almshouses. In the late 18th century toearly 19th century, this system was transformed into what is today known as juvenile courts. Thetransformational process formalized the juvenile court system, but, at the same time expanded itsscope leading to the imprisonment of more children even for noncriminal offenses. The issue ofclass and ethnic bias has also dimmed the system's ethical perspective and has led to manybelieving that its creation targeted the underprivileged in the community.The inherent flaws of the Juvenile Justice system have attracted a lot of criticisms withmany advocating for its abolishment. Defenders of the current system have voiced their supportand appreciation of the role played by the juvenile system in rehabilitating juvenile delinquents,and are equally supportive of any efforts to reform it. This paper recognizes the systemic flawsand weaknesses associated with the current juvenile system and advocates for its reformation.The paper also notes that abolishing correctional facilities without having a similar alternative inplace is not tenable and is likely to encourage or lead to chaos in society.Reforming the Juvenile Justice System in the United States
Various developmental stages accompany the life of an individual, and one of them isadolescent that comes between childhood and adulthood (Bernard, Kurlychek, & Kurlychek,2010). During their adolescence stage, individuals are full of life, and they feel the urge toexperiment, not afraid of risk-taking. They get to have intensified sensitivity towards their peersand various social influences. It is during this stage that they get to find their self-identity, theydevelop self-integration, and they tend to stay away from their parents. As they explore andexperiment, some of the behaviors that they find themselves doing include drug and alcohol use,reckless driving and unprotected sex which are risky though they serve their adaptive functions.Majority of them do not extend their exploration behaviors beyond adolescentsince their identity comes along as maturity creeps in (McCord, Widom, & Crowell, 2001). It isduring these developmental processes that the young adults find themselves in criminal activitiesand, therefore, what they need is much of guidance rather than harsh reception and punishment.Studies indicate that it is the immature biological brain that leads to the cognitive tendencies ofthe behaviors associated with adolescents. A proper understanding of these developmentalchanges led to the creation of the juvenile justice system to separate the adults from the minors.