Courts as well as the entire legal system are aimed at dealing with crime and preventing people from committing a crime. Juvenile and adult courts have a lot in common but differ in the central spheres. For instance, both types of courts have quite similar procedures, secure the rights of the offender and pose some punishment. However, the very attitudes towards offenders, the way people consider the offender’s actions and the nature of punishment is different. These differences make the abolition of juvenile courts quite impossible, but if this happens it is possible to think of some societal implications. Though, to consider possible implications it is necessary to take a closer look at the two courts.
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As has been mentioned above, juvenile and adult courts are similar in a number of ways. The offender is first detained and then is brought to court if the offense is serious enough (Siegel, 2009). In both courts, the offender’s rights are quite secured. Thus, the presumption of innocence is the basic concept in both courts. The offenders are not found guilty until their guilt is totally proven, or until there are no reasonable doubts. In both courts, some punishment is imposed if the offender is found guilty. In both cases, the severity of punishment depends on the seriousness of the offense.
As far as differences are concerned, it is necessary to note that they are quite numerous. For instance, people consider the cases rather differently, as the attitude towards the offender varies. Thus, when the case of a teenager is considered, the background, the environment and other socioeconomic factors are taken into account (Siegel, 2009). People tend to see adolescents as victims of the environment. On the contrary, adults are treated differently as no one pays significant attention to their backgrounds. It is assumed that adults can make decisions without being affected by the environment. Furthermore, the nature of punishment is quite different in juvenile courts. If found guilty, offenders can be sent to special schools or other places where the offenders are taught like any other adolescents, though the schools are closed. At the same time, adult offenders are sent to prison or can even be sentenced to capital punishment.
With this in mind, it is quite difficult to assume that juvenile courts can be abolished as in this case adolescents may also be sent to jails or sentenced to capital punishment. However, it is possible to think of some societal implications if this happens. In the first place, juvenile crime can decrease as adolescents will be scared of adult punishment. According to some surveys, adolescents stop being involved in crime when they grow older (17 or 18) as they do not want to be sent to adult courts (Ash, 2006). Thus, the abolition of juvenile courts may discourage adolescents from committing crimes. At the same time, it might lead to a change in the way offenders may be treated. For instance, thinking of a crime committed by an adult may involve taking into account socioeconomic factors that might influence the offender.
To sum up, it is possible to note that juvenile and adult courts have a lot in common, but are still different due to differences in core concepts. Abolition of juvenile courts might lead to lower rates of crime and the change in the factors taken into account while considering cases.
Ash, P. (2006). Adolescents in adult court: Does the punishment fit the crime? Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law Online, 34(2), 145-149.
Siegel, L.J. (2009). Introduction to criminal justice. Belmont, CA: Cengage Learning.