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The Juvenile system in the United States of America came into existence in the early 1900s when Judge Julian Mack recommended the review of how the young people who commit crimes are treated. Before this, the young youths and children received the same treatments as adult criminals. Julian Mack argued that children should be treated the way a parent handles his child. The reforms required in the judicial system to help change the way young criminals demanded a change in how people view the young criminals. This needed a total change from the previous perspectives of the criminal system, which saw the offenders as criminals and not as children. These reforms required a new system that would help rectify the antisocial lifestyles of the young children to make them fit into the society. The children did not deserve the treatment they were receiving at that time, and this needed a system that would act as a rehabilitative centre to guide them. This went well, and the juvenile system acted on the reforms. However, this changed in the early 1980s when the criminal records of the young people taken to court changed from the common fights in school to violent behaviors like holding guns and using them to perform major criminal offences. This caused uproar from different parties, which had different views on how well to handle the situation. Some wanted the criminals to have a total criminal responsibility while others still advocated for the paternalistic treatment (Shoemaker, 2009). These changes became operational in the early 1990s when the legislature was forced to lower the criminal age to 14 years to allow prosecution of the youths who proved to be dangerous people as they grew up.

Historical and Current Trends in the Juvenile System

The juvenile system in the US came into existence in the 1900s when the reformists advocated for a system that would be effective in dealing with minor criminal offences of the youths and children. Before the creation of the juvenile system, everyone went through the same criminal proceedings and this was not fair to the young children who, in most cases, had only done a minor crime. The changes in the system went on well with the youths receiving rehabilitation in different centers to help them reform and go back to the society as changed people. However, this was not to last for long as it received major setbacks in 1960s when different groups began advocating for different ways of dealing with the rising criminal activities from the youths. In 1967, the Supreme Court decided to let the youths charged with criminal offences have attorneys to help them with their cases. This happened because of challenges presented by youth advocates on how the courts handled the juvenile cases. There was a rise in the youth criminal cases where they became more violent and this required a more serious form of justice to deal with the new trend of criminal activities. This led to the critics that the rehabilitative system was not working well because the youths were not reforming. This prompted the legislature to consider some alternatives to deal with the rising concern of criminal activities. There emerged a need to make a choice of either holding the children responsible fully for the crimes just as adults or keeping up with the juvenile system, which treated them as children arose. The legislative system reduced the age of transferring the children to adult courts to 14 years in order to deal with the rising serious criminal offences. Many youths charged with murder cases were transferred to the adult courts at that time (Zimring, 1998).

Application of the Laws in a Practical Setting

The criminal offences of the young children have undergone a lot of changes in the previous years, and now young boys and girls have been taken to court for drug dealing and murders. This makes the whole process complicated because there are some children as young as thirteen years who have to face life sentences for having committed grave criminal offences. This was the case for the 12-year-old young boy who was sentenced to a life imprisonment in Florida after he was found guilty of murdering a girl aged six from the same neighborhood (McCord, Widom & Crowell, 2001). Many of the cases taken to juvenile courts revolve around the sale of drugs and possession criminal offences. Though it is difficult to understand how the legal age works for children charged with criminal offences work, it is evident in how the courts handle the criminal offences of the children as of adults. In the judicial proceedings, there is no clear definition of a minor and an adult as it is evident in the other prospects. The application of the adult laws to the minors serves to prevent the public from criminal offences by the children, which cannot be handled well by the juvenile system..The reason is that the juvenile system uses a different approach to its cases by trying to find ways to change the antisocial behaviors of the children. This may not work well in most cases as seen in murders where the young children are getting into serious criminal activities. The application of these adverse laws on the young offenders is necessary because most of them have easy access to firearms, which they use to cause serious injuries to other people. This was not the case in the early 1900s when arms were not easily available, and the criminal offences were not so serious.

Future Application of the Juvenile Justice System

The current application of the juvenile system faces many challenges from the rising criminal offences and the public view of the young people who engage in criminal activities. Many people assume that the system does work well in reforming the criminal minds of the young children who end up becoming worse as they pick up criminal activities from those in the rehabilitative centers. The reforms in the judicial system may need to take another approach in order to help transform the youths. Controlling the increasing violence in the juvenile reform centers is one of the things that need to be taken into consideration in future if the situation is to change for the better. The facilities are not as calm as they are supposed to be and the juvenile staff needs to have more control over the children in order to reform the children. Without proper control practices in place, the children in the reform centers will not come out any better from when they entered the facility because they would have learnt to use their fists to protect themselves and not learn anything to help them change their ways (Adams, 1973).

The juvenile systems need upgrading in the future to help it deal with criminal cases concerning underage children who go through too much in the adult courts. The court need to adapt a disciplines approach in dealing with the criminals as it is essential in changing the ways of the child. The treatment of the adult criminals differs from those accorded to minors in the juvenile reform centers. Even though, people are advocating for discipline approaches to reforming the youths, it should not be physical or brutal. The system needs to adapt to ways that can reform the youths and change how they view the judicial system. To achieve this, the juvenile system will have to work on creating programs that instill a sense of responsibility in the youth’s minds. The system needs to consider the solidarity confinements especially for the youths with mental problems. Treating them as hardcore criminals and isolating them for 23 hours a day does not do anything to reform them, but only worsens the situation.


The children and youths who become involved in criminal offences have to face the law and most of them are taken to adult courts or juvenile courts where they are punished for their offences. The juvenile system was not in existence until the 1900s when the reformists advocated for its incorporation to help reform the young children who were going through a rough time in the adult prisons. This went well until the up rises of serious criminal offences that prompted the need to change the approach used in dealing with the young criminals. The situation is a serious one because some of the children are very violent and even use firearms to cause harm to other people. This means that the juvenile system cannot be applied in these cases. The children are taken to adult courts where they receive the same trial and judgment as the adults (Ahranjani, Ferguson & Raskin, 2005).  This may seem a bit inhumane for some, but this is a step that can be seen as a necessary one because the juvenile lacks the capacity to deal with such serious offences. The approach used in the juvenile courts may require some reforms if it is to deal with the serious offences committed by boys and girls. The juvenile system does a lot as it tries to change the young minds of the criminals to adapt good virtues that can help them reform and fit back into the normal system of life. This may be a problem because of the challenges facing it in enforcing reforms within its system.

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