Youngsters around the world make decisions, which at times bring about legal consequences. Justice systems in the globe are designed to try and convict offenders, who have attained the legal adult age. The adult age ranges between 18 and 21 years in many nations. Offenders in this age are not tried in the courts because they are considered to be minors. It is for this reason that a juvenile justice system was introduced, to hear and determine cases involving minors. This paper analyzes the current systems and proposes inputs that can improve the functioning of the system.
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The juvenile courts are subordinate courts, which have the jurisdiction to hear and determine cases involving minors (Benekos & Merlo, 2006). These courts are rare as many countries prefer to prosecute the minors, in the ordinary courts. The situation is worse in nations that do not have the facilities to hold these minors, as they await judgment. The authorities are forced to detain them in adult jails and prisons. In these facilities, the minors are faced with incidents of sexual harassment from their seniors. This leads to depressions and deteriorating health conditions because these facilities do not have provisions to deal with such problems. Furthermore, these institutions do not have educational facilities to aid the minors in proceeding with their education. This denies them their basic rights to education. These facilities are crucial for many criminals who do not have moral values. The minors do not have people to guide them morally. This undermines the reason for their imprisonment.
Lack of facilities
States with facilities for minor offenders have been trying to solve some of these problems. However, they have faced several challenges. These facilities are usually under-funded. Therefore, they are unable to carry out their mandates as required. The time limit also makes it practically impossible for any reform to be instilled in the inmates. The Juvenile age limit usually lies between 14-18 years (Corriero, 2006). This makes the maximum period that an inmate can be in the facility to be four years. Shortages of judges and court facilities around the globe make case-hearings to take a long time before being heard and determined. This reduces the time spent in the facility, particularly when the minors are convicted for the crime.
The above problems represent some of the problems that the juvenile justice system faces in the current world. It is for this reason that the following proposed measures need to be implemented for the betterment of the judicial structure. First, it is the role of the leaders of different democracies to ensure that they have a juvenile justice system. This will ensure that minor offenders are given a fair chance to attain justice. The system also ensures that persons presiding in these cases have a specialty in this field, and hence are able to give fair judgments.
Governments should ensure that the facilities are well equipped in terms of infrastructure and manpower. This is achieved by funding the facility adequately and having qualified staff, working in the facilities. The educational needs of minors should also be considered. This can be achieved by using legislation that advocates for basic education for every citizen, whether in jail or free. The education offered at these facilities should also be of high standards. The minors should be remanded or jailed in the juvenile facilities. Detention or jailing of minors in adult institutions does more harm than good for a child. Adult institutions do not have counseling services or proper health facilities to deal with children. Physical or sexual harassment causes trauma or bodily harm to youngsters.
Many offenses committed by these minors are sometimes caused by family problems. The system should provide solutions to these problems. This can be achieved by using a unified family court. This court integrates jurisdiction of all family-related legal problems. The court presides over matters relating to domestic violence, guardianship, paternity, termination of parental rights, and emancipation. It also presides over child support enforcement, adoption, and at times criminal and civil cases, in which a member of a family is involved. This court system is able to determine the root of the problem and solve it wholly. If this system proves to be inapplicable, the use of a coordinated court system can be used as an alternative. It is the latest method that law scholars have advanced. This is considered as the best alternative to the unified court system because it does not require changing the court structure of a nation.
The system may apply any of the following methods to serve its purpose. It can gather together persons that have dealt with legal problems of the family at different capacities. Secondly, it can develop an approach, where cases involving single families are heard together, and have one judge presiding over them (Sherman, 2011). It can also advocate for a structure, where personnel and an investigator working on the case can share information so as to link the problems and find a solution. It can also integrate the use of computer technology, in order to monitor a family court history, so as to help judges or any other person working on the case, to learn of any related proceedings (Corriero, 2006). Finally, the system can advocate for a minor representation in court by an advocate, this ensures that the rights of minors are not infringed.
Alternative dispute resolution techniques may also help in improving the juvenile justice system. There is a shortage of judicial resources (courtrooms and time to hear and determine cases involving minors). Resolving issues concerning families away from courts save them from the humiliation that is brought by the proceedings and time-wasting court procedures. The private sector and society as a whole should ensure that there is a working juvenile justice system. The private sector should have facilities by providing funds to support the infrastructure and service delivery of an institution. The society has a role of reporting the offenses committed by offenders to the authority for further actions. Communities are also mandated with the role of preventing the acts of minor delinquency or status offense. The society should also prevent incidences of substance abuse. This can be achieved by guiding minors to adopt moral values.
In conclusion, the juvenile justice system is a necessity in every society. It is absolutely true that sometimes people make the wrong choices. However, it is the role of society to ensure that these people are guided back on track. Appropriate systems should be put in place, to ensure that the minors (offenders) are given opportunities to rectify their wrongdoings. If all stakeholders take their roles seriously, the world will be a better place.
Benekos, P. J., & Merlo, A. V. (2006). Crime Control, Politics and Policy (1st edition title: What’s Wrong with the Criminal Justice System: Ideology, Politics and the Media). Burlington: Elsevier Science.
Corriero, M. A. (2006). Judging children as children: A proposal for a juvenile justice system. Philadelphia, Pa: Temple Univ Press.
Sherman, F. T. (2011). Juvenile justice: Advancing research, policy, and practice. Hoboken, N.J: Wiley.