- Rehabilitation of adolescents is the main goal of the juvenile justice system.
- Justice systems exist because the complexity of the societies we live in grew only larger as the population got bigger, so some sort of system that recognizes and punishes deviants, had to be created.
- In the US, by the 1920s, every state had its own juvenile justice system.
Young people are able to commit crimes, just as adults are. Although not as frequent as the adult’s when it comes to pure statistics, juvenile delinquency is still a significant issue for every society. Why does the criminal justice system treat teenagers differently, and what does that tell us about the society we live in?
Juvenile Vs. Adult Crime
Not all countries have the same age threshold, which once you exceed, you stop becoming an adult. In some countries, you can drive when you are only 16 years old, but the system of justice will not treat you like an adult until you reach the age of 21. In most European countries, for example, once you reach the age of 18, you are legally allowed to drink, to drive a car without the assistance of any senior citizens, and you are treated as an adult if you commit a crime.
Punishment Is Always Present
From a sociological perspective, every system that has the power to determine what behaviors are labeled as a crime or a felony uses different types of punishment for people who behave that way. The penalty is, from this standpoint, something that people intrinsically want to avoid. It acts as a regulative discourse that prevents people from acting like criminals in the first place.
Maintaining Stability Of Society
So, the primary goal of any justice system and this includes the juvenile system too, is to maintain the stability of society as a whole by punishing people who do not follow the norms and values that are considered important in a particular culture. Within that notion, the ideas of responsibility and accountability are the ones that impose themselves as important ones.
When a young person commits a crime, the first thing that the juvenile system does is trying to explain how there are consequences to specific actions. Teenagers can act recklessly, and there are so many cultural factors that even render that possible, but if that behavior goes against the laws of the country they live in, they will feel the consequences. However, the approach to youth crime is a bit different when an adult commits the same crime.
End Goal: Rehabilitation
Rehabilitation is an important thing to understand in this case. In a way, you can look at rehabilitation programs as a type of system that offers a second chance to young people that broke the law. Again, this has a lot to do with how a specific culture views and determines the point in time when someone will ‘’become of age’’, but some facts remain the same in all cultures. If young people ended up in the same kind of prison as adults, they would not have the chance to get proper education, which would make rehabilitation back into society much harder.
It is hard for anyone that was convicted at any point in their life to adjust to the rhythm of everyday life, to find a job, or to find a partner. Simply put, the juvenile justice system, if it works properly, should educate young people and offer them a real chance to have a normal life once they leave the correctional institutions.