1).Over the last few centuries numerous historical events have taken place that resulted in a major impact on the contemporary juvenile justice network in the United States. The notion of age of responsibility and maturity level has been the central focus since the inception of recorded history. The question remains today of when and under what circumstances children are capable of forming criminal intent (“Juvenile Justice”, p. 5) which has led to continuous debates still occurring today.
Up until the early 1800s juvenile offenders in the United States received the same treatment and punishment as adult offenders. It was very common for juveniles to be housed with adults as well. In 1818, a New York City commission initiated the term “juvenile delinquency”, and brought to the attention of the public eye and identified pauperism, or poverty, as a root cause of misbehavior amongst juveniles. In 1825, the Society for the Prevention of Juvenile Delinquency began to campaign for the separation of juveniles from adults. Over the course of the next few years, numerous juvenile institutions were established. These institutions, known as houses of refuge, primarily focused on education and treatment, instead of solely focusing on punishment (“Juvenile Justice”, pp. 6-7).
With public warning from the New York City police chief, that violent juvenile offenses were steadily increasing, in 1849 the United States transitioned from houses of refuge to concentrating on reform schools and preventive agencies (“Juvenile Justice”, p. 7) Industrial Schools for dependent children were founded in 1879, as a result of the Industrial School Act, preceded by the Chicago Reform School Act, but were later held unconstitutional. As a result of unsuccessful reform schools , the child savers movement developed during the post-Civil War era, with high and genuine concern for the welfare of children, leading to the establishment of the first juvenile/family court in 1899 (“Juvenile Justice”, p. 8).
By 1932 the number of independent juvenile courts across the United States, exceeded 600. All states had enacted laws developing separate juvenile courts by 1945. Because juvenile courts were not criminal courts , juvenile offenders did not possess the same constitutional rights as accused adult offenders. Historical U.S. Supreme Court cases such as Holmes, Kent v. United States, Gault, and McKeiver v. Pennsylvania, mentioned in this week’s reading, and their holdings, have all had a dramatic impact on the contemporary juvenile justice network in America (“Juvenile Justice”, pp. 9-10).
A few other major historical legislative acts that dramatically impacted the contemporary juvenile justice network in the United States have been enacted by Congress over the years. The Juvenile Justice and Delinquency act of 1974, which established the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention to support efforts – local and state – in delinquency prevention and juvenile justice system improvement. A few of the milestones of this Act include the 1974 juvenile/adult separation requirement, the 1980 establishment of jail removal requirements, and emphasizing prevention and treatment, family strengthening, graduated sanctions, and risk-need assessments all in 1992. Later, in 2018, the Juvenile Justice Reform Act reauthorized and amended the JJDP Act, mentioned above (“Legislation”).
With the exception of participation in public jury trials, juvenile offenders are now protected by the constitution and afforded the same rights as adult offenders. The U.S. Supreme Court also found juveniles to have an underdeveloped sense of responsibility, and therefore it would be difficult for them to bare blame and punishment, as their adult counterparts. These findings are a direct result of the historic 2005 case of Roper v. Simmons (“Juvenile Justice”, pp. 10-11). In a more recent U.S. Supreme Court doctrine, specifically related to sentencing juvenile offenders transferred to adult criminal courts, it is held that those juveniles will not receive the death penalty, will not receive life without parole for non-homicide offenses, and will not be sentenced mandatory life without parole statutes (Darden, p. 2).
To be honest, my opinion is two sided in terms of how these historical events have impacted the juvenile justice network. On one hand, I think it is awesome that so many laws and programs have been enacted in an attempt to help juveniles get on the right track and deter them from becoming adult criminals. However, it seems to me that youth are steadily becoming more violent. I am not sure if it is because we are in a society where nearly everything is recorded and uploaded to social media, but it almost seems as if the new generation is not afraid of anything, including the law. I think that because so many laws work in their favor because they “have an underdeveloped sense of responsibility” many of juveniles choose to commit crimes, often violent, and use the age factor to their advantage.
2). Some of the historical events that have had an impact on the contemporary juvenile justice network in the United States, I can say starting off has to be the age differential for punishment. What I mean by that is, while reading some of the historical events I came across this portion; “there were no corporal punishment prior to puberty, which was considered to be the age of 12 years for females and 13 years for males. No capital punishment was to be imposed for those under 20 years of age, and that children under the age of 17 years were typically exempt from the death penalty (Bernard,1992)”.
Another historical event that had such an impact would be dealing with Chancery courts, under the guidance of the king’s chancellor, were created to consider petitions of those who were in need of special aid or intervention, such as women and children left in need of protection and aid by reason of divorce, death of a spouse, or abandonment, and to grant relief to such persons. Through the chancery courts, the king exercised the right of parens patriae (“parent of the country”) by enabling these courts to act in loco parentis (“in the place of parents”) to provide necessary services for the benefit of women and children (Bynum & Thompson, 1992).
Basically, stating that, “the king, as ruler of his country, was to assume responsibility for all of those under his rule, to provide parental care for children who had no parents, and to assist women who required aid for any of the reasons just mentioned. Although chancery courts did not normally deal with youthful offenders, they did deal with dependent or neglected children, as do juvenile courts in the United States today”.
My opinion on both are pretty much upside down, because these juveniles are getting more and more out of hand and I feel as if they are doing so not just because lack of attention from home, parents etc. they come up with but just foolishness knowing that they won’t necessarily get punished for it. But times have changed are going to continue to change just because of that. I was reading on the case Roper v. Simmons. This case was very interesting to me because teens are still committing these types of crimes, which I call pre-meditated. I wouldn’t want my love one away from me, but committing such crime, consequences are needed to be set in place. Now as far as the time served giving that would be difficult for me to decide, only because you may NEVER know what a person is committing the crime for. They can tell you one thing and mean another. Long term effects will result in continuous increase in prison population, after while the juvenile courts/jail will no longer be needed because it’s a continuous thing with the crimes being done. Juveniles stealing cars, robbing and killing-the EXACT thing they see us adults doing and seeing the punishments being given and thinking oh that’s nothing I can serve that. It’s like it’s a trend now.