Measuring Juvenile Justice

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There are important periods in the development of the United States Juvenile Justice system. The initial process has early ties dating back to the nineteenth century. The first recorded attempt at controlling the juvenile justice system was during The Puritan Period. The Massachusetts Stubborn Child Law was passed in 1646. The Puritans during the period thought of children as evil and made parents responsible for their development and criminal activity. If the parents failed, then the child could be made to face consequences for their own actions. (Cole, Smith, DeJong).

During the period, children at the age of five were treated either as miniature adults or property. A seven-year-old baby may have been sentenced in adult criminal courts. In 1648, a law in Massachusetts passed, allowing the person who cursed his biological parents would be put to death. During the Refuge period, juvenile crime started to become a serious problem throughout American cities.

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To see the current position of juvenile offenders in the court system, particularly those tried as adults, it is essential to see the progress from which the juvenile justice originated. Up until the early nineteenth century, juveniles were heard in the same courts as every other offender. There was no difference between criminals, regardless of age. It seemed the only thing society worried about was that the crime was committed and that they took in custody the individual responsible.

In the period since the founding of the juvenile court, juvenile justice policies have developed amid the contradiction between the goals of punishment and rehabilitation of young offenders. The point and use of juvenile justice has undergone significant change in the last century. Juvenile justice systems were originally formed to protect youth from the adult systems of justice and to provide discretion in decision making involving youths so that juvenile justice actors would make decisions that were in the best interest of the children.

From the 1960s through the 1980s there was debate about morals and effectiveness that surrounded the juvenile courts. During this era, there was a rise in attention to and speculation about juvenile delinquency, as well as concern about the court system itself, concerning social issues. There were harsher punishments during this era. Also, there was more of a focus on the due process of juveniles and their legal counsel in court.

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