After reading the concept from the text (below), along with a practical scenario, students should write a short paper (2 to 3 pages) on the issue and how they would handle the questions posed. For this paper, you are the officer so outline your actions (and supporting justification). A historical study of the treatment of juvenile offenders demonstrates that children were once treated as little more than “chattel” and often punished as harshly as adults. The state may step in when a child is neglected, abandoned, abused or “wayward.” The theme behind this is the protection of a child who is in need of basic shelter, food, etc., as well as efforts to help the child or juvenile become a productive member of society. This term is referred to as parens patriae and is intended to help children, not punish them. For many years, children had little if any rights to due process. It wasn’t until the landmark cases of Kent v. U.S. (1966) and the subsequent In Re Gault (1967) that juveniles finally had the core of due process rights afforded to adults. Essentially, two models have developed over the last few decades. One is a “child welfare model,” which takes the interest of the child or youth as the main consideration. This may include protection from their biological parents, foster parents, or institutions. Educational programs, vocational programs and counseling may be used to help to ease their entry into society. The second model is more of a “juvenile justice model,” similar to the crime control model, which advocates that children or youths who commit crimes need to be controlled in a strict “protective custody” setting. Today, some states are charging juveniles as adults as early as 14 years old. It is important to note that juveniles are forbidden by law to be housed, or even transported, with adults until they are at least 18 years old in most states. There are some major differences between the criminal justice system for adults and the juvenile justice system. Juveniles may be subject to an arrest, but the actual term is a “detention.” Instead of an arraignment or preliminary hearing, a “hearing” is held in a juvenile court. Juveniles can’t get bail, but may be released to their parent or guardian. A juvenile court hearing is “quasi-civil” in nature; there is no jury (unless tried as an adult) and the judicial officer makes the “disposition,” i.e., what happens next to the juvenile. Another part of juvenile cases includes neglected or abused children. There may also be a difference between “status offenders” (e.g., runaways, truants) as opposed to criminal behavior. Other juveniles may be missing, including runaways, parental custody battles and outright kidnappings or children lured by pedophiles. One type of problem juvenile is “throwaways.” These are children who have been kicked out of their families or have been abandoned or deserted. Of the juveniles who are responsible for some crime or offense for which they could be arrested, only about 3% are apprehended by the police. This is largely due to police officers that use their discretionary decision-making powers to avoid official channels (i.e., to not file a report and/or to release the juvenile to a parent without a formal report and follow-up). Even so, the large numbers of juveniles who are arrested still enter a “funnel” similar to that of adults. Many offenders, including juveniles, who are actually taken into custody and go through a formal hearing process are often “diverted” out of the system along the way. Juvenile records are also different from adult records. Juvenile files must be kept separate from adult files. Juvenile records are much easier to seal and once a juvenile becomes an adult, they do not always have to report their juvenile crimes. Students should check local and state laws regarding juvenile records.


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