Five Distinct Stages of Juvenile Justice in the United States

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Juvenile justice is a part of the criminal law put in place only for younger people who are not old enough yet to be held accountable for their crimes. In most cases this apply to youthful offenders usually under the age 18 who are accused of committing a delinquent or criminal activities. So, their case will typically go through the juvenile justice system.

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The juvenile justice system is the initial system used in the United States to handle youths who are convicted for engaging in criminal acts. The juvenile justice system and adult criminal law system are comparable in several ways. For instance, both of these system processes include arrest, detainment, hearings, depositions, and reentry. However, the difference is the juvenile justice system operates with the assumption that the younger people are essentially different from the adults in levels of rehabilitation and responsibility. Throughout, history the American justice system has changed numerous times to properly serve youthful offenders. According, to Hess & Wright (2012), Juvenile justice in the United States is generally recognized as having progressed through five distinct stages.

During the Puritan Period (1646-1824), laws from England were brought over and it was believed that children sins were inherent. So, juveniles would be strictly punished when it was necessary and when children misbehave during this period their families were responsible and in control of their punishments. However, when the parents failed to punish their children community punishments and control was put forward by church and other social institutions to handle juvenile offenders. Trials and punishment were based on age, and anyone older than 7 was subject to the courts (Hess & Wright, 2012, p. 34). Children 7 years of age and younger would not be held responsible for criminal acts, but once a child reached the age 8 it was believed that they were capable of telling the difference between good and evil therefore, they could be found guilty of their crimes. Rebelliousness and disobedience were two offenses that juvenile offenders age 7 and older could receive punishments for during this period.

The Refuge Period (1824-1899), during this period poverty was a crime, so children were removed from those environments to eliminate it and improve juveniles’ behaviors. That being said, separate institutions like reform schools, houses of refuge, and foster homes were created for youths. However, delinquents, neglected, and foster children were still housed together in these institutions for juveniles. It was believed by child savers that the unhealthy environment a child was in was the reason they were bad,

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