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Juvenile Justice Process

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Juvenile courts were setup with the main aim of changing the behavior of young persons. Only persons below the age of eighteen years can be prosecuted in a juvenile court. Unlike the adult system, which aims at punishing the offender, juvenile courts uses less strict rules aimed at directing the child away from bad behavior such as burglary, drug use, destruction etc. juvenile courts has over time played a major role in enhancing proper behavior among the delinquent youth in the society.

The chart above shows the procedures followed in juvenile courts from arrest to release of an offender. Once a minor commits an offence, he or she is arrested by police and taken to Juvenile Assessment Center (JAC). At the JAC, the minor is fingerprinted and his file obtained to view his history incase he/she had previously violated the law. From these findings together with the seriousness of offence committed, the JAC personnel may rule as to whether the child should be released, put under secure detention or referred to youth institutions for counseling. If the youth is booked, the case proceeds to detention hearing and within 24 hours the child is brought before a judge. The court decides whether the child should be securely held, placed under home arrest or released under conditions as the youth awaits Juvenile court hearing (Miller, 1996).

Juvenile hearings determine whether the child is guilty or innocent and the sanctions for the crime committed. Sanctions may consist of a fine, being put on probation or the child being ordered to a work camp. The judge may order the child to Juvenile Justice Services (JJS) for observation, assessment and monitoring or to do social works under supervision. Also the child may be required to report occasionally to the case manager for evaluation. After the child has served the period under sanction, the judge reviews the report on his progress and decides whether the child should be released or not. Youth found to be violent are placed under Youth Parole Authority which has various programs learnt by the youth on how to be responsible citizen. Periodic reviews are done to assess their behavior and recommendations made. The Parole Authority may release the youth whose behavior is satisfactory.

One of the things I would change in the system is merging both the detention hearing and Juvenile court hearing to be heard at the same time. This is because the duration taken between the two hearings places the minor under a situation where he/she cannot be able to appeal. Also, I would recommend sending the child to adult courts which are primarily aimed at punishing the offender. If sent to adult prison the child may face hardships and bad influences, that may worsen his behavior instead of shaping them.

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