Sample Law Essay Paper on Juveniles Charged as Adults

Historical, contemporary and emerging theories of delinquency
A juvenile is a person who is under the ages of 16, 17, 18 or 19(depending on countries) who is
deemed not of enough age to be liable for any criminal activity. Thus, age matters because it
determines if one has to be charged in adult or juvenile courts. The juvenile delinquent is defined
as a given child fit to be under the any juvenile court due to his or her serious offensive activities
and can be prosecuted just like an adult. Juvenile courts in which it tries and convicts the minors
are authorized to try three kinds of children namely (Hirsch 1969);
1. Those guilty of criminal offence
2. Those neglected or ill treated by their parents. Some cases are for those requiring certain
aid from the government.
3. Guilty of young offence
Prior to nineteenth century, the juveniles were treated and taken as young adults and was in
return looked into to act as expected of them. Any child who act regardless of the young age is
responsible of serious crimes would be put on trial in an adult tribunal. If found guilty, they were
placed in an adult cell (OJJP, 1999).
In the nineteenth century, many countries had come up with several farms, rehabilitation schools
for guilty children though some countries sent children to adult cells. However, juveniles were
not actually reformed in detention centers but after mixing up with adult offenders, they usually
come out with heightened criminal knowledge and heightened desire to do more offences.
In 1890s, the first juvenile court was built in Chicago for two reasons namely;
1. The young adults did not obey the state laws just like adults
2. They have not reached maturity and thus can be reformed more effectively than grown up



In 1960s, civil groups put across many concerns on juvenile justice in that the juveniles are never
reformed but confined in settings similar to adult settings and not able to be accorded enough
treatment and protection like adults. In 1970s, a law case on cruelty and improper treatment in
institutions was filed and it advocated for removal of some institutions and establishing proper
mechanisms of dealing with juvenile offences (Benard and Thomas, 1992). Thus in 1974, USA
set up the juvenile justice delinquency prevention act which is still in full force till today and
formed its office. These separated the under age from senior offenders and rehabilitation of some
criminals depending on status of offence. It provided donations to encourage countries to
establish community programs instead of prison confines.
However, in mid 1970s, serious crimes rate was reported to be increasing and the public
demanded very harsh actions be taken. The legislative arm of government then responded by
formulating and adopting tougher laws to curb juvenile criminal offences paving way for
juveniles to be charged in courts belonging to adults(Donna et al,1996).
Of late, there has been rising numbers of young persons convicted as of legal age just as the way
it was before introduction of juvenile courts (Rosenheim, 2002). In addition, there have been
many minors guilty of serious crimes and the picture it brings out is that juvenile illegal acts are
beyond control. Many countries have in turn responded to this through introduction of laws that
guarantees minors to be convicted as adults under certain situations. These circumstances
1. The history of the offence
2. Mental evaluation
3. The state of criminal act
In our contemporary world, rehabilitation is still the main objective of treating juvenile
delinquency though they have a number of rights for instance the right to a lawyer. All counties
still keep the laws set for juveniles for instance moderate acts which restrict juveniles to juvenile
courts, juvenile rights, steps for juvenile courts and law responses to misbehavior (White head



It’s been argued that convicting juveniles in a grown up setting can make matters more serious as
it increases the recidivism rate than those in juvenile setting. This can be attributed to bad state of
prisons and sometimes these juveniles are ill treated by the adult cellmates. Usually the
assumptions of trying the juveniles in adult courts are to receive harsher judgment and which is
of equal ratio to their misdeeds and as a result the danger of the harsh sentences will head to
reduce juvenile criminal rate. (Donna et al, 1996).
Theoretical approaches to explaining delinquency.
The irresponsible behavior occurrences are due to social upbringing of a juvenile or a group
through uncertainty or derangement. In this case, many retaliate in an aberrant or abnormal and
may be felonious manner (Hawkins et al, 1996).
Durkheim theory (Hawkins et al, 1996) said that there are high crime rates during times of
unstable political, economic social and cultural conditions. Many juveniles find themselves in a
no know-how situations and end up committing suicides or any heinous acts to relieve their
psychological stress.
Merton’s theory; culpable behavior occurs due to discontent in trying to achieve the set
ambitions due to lack of proper means of achieving such and the modern society urge for people
to have a success. The lower class individuals who have no signs of succeeding end up using
illegitimate ways as a result of frustration to acquire their dreams.
Cohen’s theory; (Hawkins et al, 1996) delinquency is mainly as a result of blocked
achievements whereby the less socially and economically opportunistic individuals react by
forming social hate groups, rebellious groups, and armed gangs in quest of their achievements.
Cloward and ohlin; some lower class individuals may not access both legitimate and
illegitimate means to get success and therefore gets frustrated thus reciprocate their annoyance
through: crime gangs for theft, forgery, blackmail influenced by neighboring environment
setting; conflicting with the society and retreating to drugs to settle their emotional stress.



Sellin theory: in society there are various groups in terms of ethnicity, religion politics
sociology with its own behavior, belief, tradition, and value and norms hence sometimes
conflicting interests emerges.

Basic legal tenets that governs the treatment and disposition of juveniles
Many juvenile delinquency attempts has never bore fruits because of undesirable approaches.
What ought to be is through endeavoring to deter juveniles from irresponsible conducts by
employing opportunities to improve health, sociological, physical and psychological
needs(Anderson and David , 1998). This has also been aggravated due to lack of enough
rehabilitation institutions like children homes, schools, farms and ranches thus neglecting the
local community. (Hawkins,1996) it’s better to prevent a mistake, contributing factors to that
mistake have to be noted and measures sought to make solution to it and thus change those
The best principle to address delinquency is the use of graduated sanctions as an intervention;
this combines the responsibility and sanctions with vigorous reform services. It must not be
narrow and should fit the criminal and should compose of correction and intervention
components (Barke and Michael, 1999).
Intervention components consist of immediate intervention and intermediate sanction while the
correct ion element consist use of community confines and rehabilitation in education institutions
and farms. All these interventions deter juveniles from further committing serious crimes and
calling for law-abiding conduct. It works with government courts and rehabilitation centers to
establish average, human friendly and acknowledgeable sanctions.
This program however requires the risk and needs assessment to come up with appropriate
disposition for the convict and find appropriate means of distributing scarce resources in a
standardized way. The risk component is used to establish the characters to be deployed in
custody, parent and community based custodies or programs and is usually based on the chances



of recommitting a crime, threat to the public and how fatal it is of the delinquent activity. Needs
assessment is used to come up with a model to determine if the delinquent has conformed to the
laws of the land and take appropriate actions and several steps are followed; several problems are
first of all put down as a plan then a schedule for monitoring the juvenile is developed. Thirdly,
the timely re-assessment of juvenile treatment status is done. Lastly, information on needs for
treatment is used to plan, evaluate a program policy or a procedure ( Barke and Michael 1995).

Secure sanctions
Irresponsible behavior of juveniles and serious crimes needs introduction of secure correction
sanctions where facilities namely educational schools, farms, ranches and other community
utilities gives effective and efficient services to treat juvenile delinquents.
The principles used in this component are that;
1. It enhance the community and juvenile interaction
2. It collaborates with the criminal and the local society for instance schools
3. Generation of required resources alongside local community lending hand
4. It nurtures the juveniles to show respect and independence from local environment.
5. Timely check up on the juvenile who has been re-introduced into the society
Community confines
This is appropriate to juveniles who were unsuccessfully to reform in the previous sanctions. The
juvenile is confined in a community center provision consisting of rigorous diagnosis and care
for instance educational facilities.
Incarceration; in some cases, those who never reform in community facilities and poses a
threat to society requires extra disposition in rehabilitation centers like education and training
schools and other programs in skill and expertise developments( Hirsch 1969).



1. Anderson, David C. 1998 “When Should Kids Go To Jail?” The American Prospect
(May June).
2. Donna. M. Bishop et al,”The Transfer of Juveniles to Criminal Court: Does It Make a
Different?” Crime and Delinquency, Vol 42(1996).
3. Bernard, Thomas J. The Cycle of Juvenile Justice. New York: Oxford Up, 1992
4. OJJP “Juvenile Justice: A Century of Change” Washington Dc Office of Juvenile
Justice.” 1999.
5. Hawkins et al, 1996. The Social Development Model: A Theory of Antisocial Behavior.
In Delinquency and Crime: Current Theories, Cambridge University Press.
6. Krisberg, Barry and Austin, James F. Reinventing Juvenile Justice, Newbury Park, Ca
Sage, 1993.



7. Rosenheim, Margaret K. et al, Edition 2002. A Century of Juvenile Justice, Chicago:
University Of Chicago Press.
8. Whitehead, John T. & Steven P. Lab 1999 Juvenile Justice: An Introduction Cincinnati,
Ohio: Anderson.
9. Burke, Michael K. 1995, “This Old Court: Abolitionists Once Again Line Up The
Wrecking Ball On The Juvenile Court When All It Needs Is A Few Alterations.”
University Of Toledo.
10. Hirsch, T 1969 Causes Of Delinquency. Berkeley, CA: University