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A juvenile justice is a system of criminal law that is mandated to deal with minors who commit criminal acts such as use of harmful drugs, property damage and vandalism, murder, curfew violations, assault, theft among others (Shoemaker & Wolfe, 2005). In most states, juvenile justice systems are governed by the state law and have set 18 years as the age for criminal culpability. The fundamental purpose of these systems is to protect the community and the citizens from the atrocities that are committed by minors and to enhance behavioral change of minors who commit criminal acts. However, in order to accomplish this objective, various stakeholders are involved, and each has specific contributions to these minors. This paper pays high attention to the analysis of the roles of police, the court, and the Department of Correction in the juvenile justice system.
Role of the police
In a juvenile justice system, the role of police is highly valued since the latter is the initial person to come into contact with minors. It is established that the attitudes and views of minors toward law enforcement agencies are molded by their initial encounter with a police officer. However, police have numerous roles in the juvenile system. First, police officers have the role of arresting, the issuing a citation, and referring the young offenders to the juvenile court (Lawrence & Hesse, 2008). However, at this point, the police officer records the offense committed by this offender and his or her background details. Moreover, the police then establish whether a formal delinquency petition should be filed or not. Additionally, a police officer may opt to detain the minor especially when the latter is considered dangerous to the community.
Consecutively, a police officer has the role of acting as the parental liaison of sorts. This occurs when a police officer contacts the parents or guardian of the juvenile before releasing the latter to the community. However, this occurs after the police officer conducts intensive questioning and warning the minor concerning the offense he or she had committed. In addition, a police has the role of referring a minor to the diversion agencies, such as youth service bureau, which bestows social and counseling services that are deemed necessary for troubled youths and first-time offenders (Lawrence & Hesse, 2008).
Role of the courts
Juvenile courts have the role of handling various cases of delinquency, and making the necessary decisions. However, delinquency cases are handled either formally or informally. The formal way involves bringing the minor before the court, and he or she is given an opportunity of denying or admitting the allegations of the complaint (Yehle, 1958). On the other hand, the informal way is where the case is either referred to a casework agency or terminated without the appearance of the minor or his parent.
Moreover, juvenile courts have the role of conducting intensive investigations in order to diagnose the factors that might be making the child engage in delinquent activities. For example, complete investigations concerning the background of the minor, including his family and neighbors, his school record in terms of his performance and attendance behaviors, his relationship with teachers and peers, his physical and mental conditions, his religious activities and training among others. This investigation helps the court to draw a recommended plan of rehabilitation (Yehle, 1958). However, most of these investigations are conducted when the child is held in a detention facility. Consecutively, the court has the role of conducting delinquency preventive activities, such as rehabilitation of the minors who are involved in criminal acts. However, this is achieved through its collaboration with various agencies such as youth program committees and group working agencies.
Role of the Department of Correction
This department conducts a major role of incarcerating juveniles who have been referred to it by the juvenile courts, and also providing them with rehabilitation services, which are aimed at enhancing successful re-entering of these juveniles to the society. Some of these rehabilitation services include high school and college education, mental health treatments, substance abuse treatment, counseling services, vocational training, and transitional aftercare housing. However, some of these services are bestowed to depending on the recommendations of the probation officers in the juvenile courts (Bernard & Kurlychek, 2010).
However, the best method of addressing juvenile delinquency in terms of reducing future recidivism is that where intensive investigation had been conducted by the probation officers in order to establish the actual factor that influenced the minor the commit the criminal activity. This helps in making a perfect plan of rehabilitating the minor (Yehle, 1958). For example, substance abuse treatments, counseling and vocational training are administered to minors who are addicts of harmful drugs.
It is, therefore, evident that the police, the court and the Department of Correction play specific and major roles in the juvenile justice systems. The police are responsible in providing first contact role, parental liaison, and referring the minors to the juvenile courts. Moreover, the juvenile courts have the role of handling delinquency cases through conducting hearings and investigations, and making necessary decisions based on their findings. Consecutively, the Department of Correction has the role of providing rehabilitation services to the juveniles. Nevertheless, providing rehabilitation services based on the root factors that influenced the minors to commit delinquencies is the best method of reducing future recidivism.
Lawrence, H., & Hesse, M., (2008). Police and Juvenile Offenders. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, (31)1, 3–31. Sage publications. Available at, http://www.sagepub.com/upm-data/19435_Section_II.pdf
Yehle,J., L., (1958).The Role of the Juvenile Court in Our Legal System. Vol. 41 Marq. L. Rev. 284.
Shoemaker, D. J., & Wolfe, T. W. (2005). Juvenile justice: A reference handbook. Santa Barbara, Calif: ABC-CLIO.
Bernard, T. J., & Kurlychek, M. C. (2010). The cycle of juvenile justice. New York: Oxford University Press.