Probation and Juvenile Justice Essay

This paper will include information regarding the history of the juvenile justice system - Probation and Juvenile Justice Essay introduction. I will discuss issues regarding juveniles that lead to the development of the juvenile court. I will also discuss how probation was developed and the roles of the probation officer in regards to juveniles. I will also talk about the positive and negative aspects of the juvenile justice system, from my point of view as well as others who work or have worked in the juvenile justice system. The conclusion for the paper will be my thoughts on how to make improvements within the system itself. Probation and Juvenile Justice

Throughout our history, there has been little emphasis on the needs of juveniles. Juveniles that violated the law were typically punished in the same manner as adults. Juveniles as young as seven were subject to the same punishments as adults. The punishments were whipping, mutilation, banishment, torture and death (Bartollas, 2011). The common law tradition in England stated that children under the age of seven should not face legal penalties. Children between age 7 -14 were held accountable for their actions and were punished accordingly. In English history alone, there were 160-200 children executed for their crimes. Juvenile Justice began in the colonial period, with the emphasis of English practices. However, Family was the cornerstone of the community and was the source of primary means of social control. (Bartollas, 2011)

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During this time, punishment for juveniles was of their family members. There were no law enforcement officers or aftercare officers. Children had no idea that the juvenile justice system would try to rehabilitate or correct their actions. By 1883, courts became heavily involved in the problems with juveniles. They were concerned about the welfare of its children and the concept of parens patriae was formalized by ex parte Crouse. This gave the courts legal authority to intervene in the lives of children. How did the juvenile court develop?

According to Abadinsky (2012), as immigration, industrialization, and urbanization continued, people became concerned because of the large number of children that were undisciplined and uneducated. This gave rise to the child-saving movement. This movement was led by educated, upper class women, such as Jane Addams, Louise Bowen, and Julia Lathrop. They believed something had to be done to save the children from the environment that would lead them into vice and crime, which led to the development of the juvenile court. In 1899, the Illinois Juvenile Court Act was established and was the first law creating a comprehensive court for juveniles. The concept was consistent with parens patriae, and the court was given jurisdiction over children who had been neglected, delinquent or dependent.

Like most courts today, the Illinois court was operated on an informal basis. This meant first; courtrooms were not used. Second, children were brought before the court due to complaints of citizens, parents, police, school officials, or others. Third hearing and records were confidential, because children were not considered criminal. Fourth, proof of the child’s criminality was no required to consider the child in need of services. Fifth, the court had discretion over the services the child required. Sixth, lawyers were not required. Finally, proof beyond a reasonable doubt was not required, and hearsay evidence was permitted. (Bartollas, 2011) By 1928, 29 states had passed a juvenile court statute that followed closely to Illinois statute in 1899. These courts were known as civil and family courts. The primary purpose was rehabilitation rather than punishment. All juveniles in need of court services were subject to the dictates, but the public was reassured problems of juveniles would be solved by the development of new programs. How did probation develop?

Probation was created in Boston Massachusetts. In 1841, a Boston cobbler, John Augustus accepted his first probation client. His client was a common drunkard and John, devoted his time to the cause of probation. He believed that lawbreakers needed only the concern and interest of another to straighten out their lives and become law abiding citizens. He worked with women, children and male offenders. In 1869, the state of Massachusetts acknowledged Johns work and established a visiting probation system. This system was set up to assist juveniles and adults. As long as the offender showed promise, they were released on probation. Youths were returned to their families as long as they obeyed the injunction “Go and sin no more.” Probation was regulated in 1878, with the authorization to appoint a paid probation officer.

By 1890, probation was used statewide. The spread of probation was accelerated by the Juvenile Court Act of 1899. (Abadinsky, 2012) This act also provided for the hiring of probation officers. However it was not until 1919 that the law was enacted to pay the salaries and expenses of the probation officer. Probation is used when a youth is found guilty of an offense and is in need of supervision, but not secure confinement. Juveniles on probation are sent back home to their parents and under conditions stipulated by the court and supervised by a probation officer. (Bartollas, 2011) Depending on the degree of the crime committed by youths, depends on what type of supervision they require. High risk youths require intensive supervision that require the use of electric monitoring systems. Roles of juvenile probation officers.

The roles of a probation officer vary from state to state. Typically roles of juvenile probation officer include intake and screening a juvenile’s case, which involve interview and assessment of the juvenile in question. Juvenile probation officers conduct investigations prior to the juvenile being sentenced. This allows the officer to testify as to what kind of supervision or probation a juvenile should receive. Finally, the probation officer provides direct supervision of the juvenile undergoing probation. The focus of the juvenile justice system and probation are very similar. The juvenile justice system and probation focus on prevention, community-based services, intervention, and for youths who should be placed in juvenile correctional facilities as a last resort, for rehabilitation and reform. Now that we know what the philosophy and theory behind the Juvenile Justice system, I am going to talk about the positive aspects from a Judge’s point of view. Judge Anderson from the Norton County District Court believes that the Juvenile Justice System gives juveniles a chance to be rehabilitated.

She stated “it gives juveniles the opportunity to work through the system at the least restrictive level and moves up according to the behavior and background of the juvenile.” She also said, “one really positive aspect is that there is a consequence mimicking criminal codes for adults.” “Juveniles have to be held accountable for their actions and if they choose not work through the system the can be placed out of the home with different levels or sanctions depending on that juvenile.” (Anderson, 2013) Children in need of care are placed out of the home in safer environments. This gives them the opportunity to get help they need. Therapy for those juveniles who has been in abusive environments allows them to work on issues that need to be addressed early, to keep them from delinquent behavior or drugs and alcohol. These are all good things about the Juvenile Justice System, but there are quite a few negatives. This is the point where I am going to talk about the negatives as a former juvenile in the juvenile justice system.

First and foremost, there are too many uneducated people who work in the system that they could care less about the juveniles. It is a paycheck to them rather than them actually caring about the juveniles. We need more staff that have the education and have a genuine concern for the safety, and welfare of these juveniles. A negative aspect the judge felt was important is that everything is subcontracted out to other agencies. SRS now DHS used to handle all cases with juveniles. Now they subcontract the cases to agencies like Saint Francis Academy. She felt that if cases were left up to DHS again cases would be better handled. She did not feel that some of the agencies especially St Francis had enough people to handle the cases they were assigned.(Anderson 2013) Juveniles that needed to be heard or had things going on got pushed to the back burner because there was another juvenile with higher priorities. To better fix this issue, agencies need more workers and other agencies need to step in and help. DHS needs to be more involved with the children, as well. They are concerned when they get phone calls about possible abuse in the home, so why can’t they do the same in juvenile cases.

If agencies pull together, there would not be as many caseloads to one person and juvenile cases would be taken care of rather than ignored. Another issue that I find important, there are not enough resources available in small towns such as Norton to keep the juveniles in the home. Small communities have to send juveniles to bigger towns such as Hays or Kansas City in order for them to be able to get the help they need. This causes them to be further away from family and friends. They have to start all over in a new school and new people. They either runaway to be closer to family, or they have problems fitting into the new community or school system. Juveniles in new towns and schools are labeled, and people are reluctant to get to know them because they have been told that juvenile is trouble, so they don’t want to do anything to help them get comfortable or feel welcome. Small towns such as ours need more resources such as drug and alcohol treatment programs, mental health programs, although they have High Plains Mental Health here, they need more group therapy programs that where juveniles can help other juveniles.

I also believe that if we had a program such as Big Brothers, Big Sisters it would benefit a lot of juveniles in this town. A lot of the reason juveniles in this town are involved in delinquent behavior is because they are bored. We need more things in this town for entertainment or group activities for juveniles so that they don’t get bored and feel like they have to do stupid stuff to keep entertained. I personally do not disagree with the positive aspects of the Juvenile Justice System. I believe they have great goals, but I would also like to see these goals also have more family involvement. I believe that most problems with juveniles begin at home. While the juvenile is working through the juvenile system, parents or individuals that are raising these children need to complete some kind of course, as well. They need to be taught how to be better parents and role models for their children.

I believe this will be a positive impact on the juvenile. If their parents are completing some kind of course it would make them work harder and let the system work to their advantage so they can go home and be successful. In cases where juvenile cannot go home due to abuse etc. obviously this cannot happen. These two subjects are very important to me, because I was once a juvenile in the system, and I know how difficult it can be. I also know the positive and negative outcomes because I have been on both sides. Now that I am older and am pursuing my degree, I want to be a juvenile probationer because I know our youth need a voice. Juveniles need to be guided in the right direction and become law abiding citizens. I want to accomplish both of these.

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