In this essay you will read about different legislations and movements that happened during the 20th century that in some way formed to build the juvenile justice program that is used today throughout the United States of America. In the past juveniles were treated and sentenced like adults. It didn’t matter what their age was or what crime they had committed. Everyone was treated equally and sentenced accordingly. After the juvenile justice system was created, government officials noticed that they weren’t doing what the system was actually created for.
The children’s needs and best interest was often overlooked. With over crowded court docks and no time to listen to each individual case a lot of delinquents were often just thrown into a stereotypical crowd and forgotten about. They didn’t get the protection or help that they were entitled to. The first movement that I am going to talk about is the Federal Juvenile Delinquency Act, it was passed in 1938. (Criminal Resource Manual)The main purpose of this act was to keep adults criminals apart from juvenile delinquents.
Under most circumstances juveniles weren’t supposed to be sentenced for a term that exceeded their 21st birthday. This act gave the Attorney General the ability to make it his decision to prosecute a juvenile as an adult or as a juvenile depending on the crime that was committed, except for those that have committed a crime that would fall under the death penalty or life in prison. The second movement I am going to talk about is the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (Major Acts of Congress). It was created because of the raising rates of the failing practice of rehabilitation.
Anyone that would fall in this act would have to be under the age of 18, and a juvenile delinquent. This Act granted states and local governments with resources to assist with the planning, establishing, operating, coordinating, and evaluating projects to help with education, training, research, prevention, diversion, treatment, and rehabilitation programs concentrating on juvenile delinquency and other programs that would help assist with the improvements of the juvenile justice system. The outcome of the Act was not at all successful at first.
Many states didn’t want to differ between adult and juvenile crimes and other states excluded serious crimes from juvenile courts. Therefore any juvenile committing a serious crime would be trialed as an adult no matter what. The goal of this Act was to separate juveniles from adults. To keep them out of adult prisons and institutions, but it actually did the opposite and increased the number of juveniles that were being trialed as adults. In the late 1900’s the juvenile justice system faced many serious problems. One of the most serious problems would be the overcrowding of delinquents in facilities and courts.
With overcrowded courts there was little time to look into every detail of every case. Those delinquents that were committing the petty crimes were receiving less attention. The ones that were assigned probation officers rarely saw them due to the probation officer having to deal with the more serious delinquents. With the overflowing of courts piling up every day it eventually led to more juveniles being tried as an adult to free up space in the court dockets. By this time most government officials are beginning to doubt the juvenile justice system (Hall, 2004).
In the mid 1990’s there was an act passed called “Balanced Juvenile Justice and Crime Prevention Act of 1996. ” It was a punitive approach to the juvenile system. It stated that if states would demonstrate that there laws, policies, and procedures that exceeded expectations then they would be given a grant (JABG) to help assist with the staffing of courts, such as lawyers, judges and dues. As well as help with specified courts, for example drug courts. This was a big leap in the juvenile justice programs and gave new motivation to governmental officials.