Juvenile Delinquency Cases

Juvenile delinquency cases involve a wide variety of elements in determining the outcome of the case especially in terms of the sanctions for the juvenile involved. More importantly, race, ethnicity, and social class relate to the disposition of juvenile delinquency cases. For the most part, individual races—which are determined a least in terms of skin color, features of the face, and the texture of the hair among others—have a value in the disposition of juvenile delinquency cases.

Becky Tatum (1996) argues that there is “a disproportionate involvement in criminal activity by people of color in comparison to their representation in the population (Tatum, 1996, p. 356). ” Juvenile delinquency cases are not excluded from this statistics. In relation to this, ethnicity—generally accepted as a group of human beings identifying with one another—plays a crucial role in much the same way as racial background in the disposition of juvenile delinquency cases.

For the most part, almost every individual has committed a delinquent offense while still at a young age (Snyder, 1996, p. 53), and this suggests that regardless of ethnicity nearly all individuals have committed a delinquent offense some time in the past whether or not they have been caught by law enforcing bodies. Although there are numerous countries with legislations against racial and ethnic discrimination, evidence suggest that “the institutional confinement rate for black juveniles was roughly five times that of white youth (Engen, Steen, & Bridges, 2002, p. 194).

” Lastly, social class is also another factor in the disposition of juvenile delinquency cases. In general, the financial status of an individual in the society determines one’s capability to finance legal court battles. For instance, a juvenile belonging to the lower social class will most likely be unable to completely finance one’s legal case and ensure a successful juvenile court defense. Gold (1967) states that “higher delinquency rates among lower status youngsters are a fact of the police, court, and institutional data (Gold, 1967, p. 114). ”

In terms of assessment and predictability of dangerousness, false positives and false negatives indicate statistical errors in determining the theoretical occurrence from the actual occurrence of the dangerousness of an individual. In essence, false negatives are the type of errors when there is the failure to observe a certain difference when in fact and in reality there is no existing difference. In the context of assessing and predicting dangerousness, the failure to observe the proposed differences even with the fact there are no existing differences would entail a false negative.

On the other hand, a false positive occurs when there is the observation of a difference when in reality there is none such as the case when a certain test may verify that a certain ethnic group is a group of juvenile delinquents when in fact there is none (Hart, Webster, Menzies, 1993, p. 695). On the other hand, victim impact statements refer to either verbal or written statements which are made as a section of the judicial legal system which in turn permits the victim of a certain crime the chance to speak during the process of sentencing of the offender or during consequent parole hearings (Kennard, 1989 p.

417). The very purpose of this principle is to allow the judge to have a deeper understanding of the consequences the offense has done to the victim. Moreover, it allows the victim the capacity to voice-out his or her feelings toward the case and the offender which presumably renders help to the emotional recovery of the victim. An argument against allowing the victim impact statement is that these statements may greatly alter the objective perception of the judge which may eventually distort the objective legal or judicial proceedings.

Since it is held that the victims of any crime or offense have in on way or another an emotional burden caused by the offense, victims may tend to lean towards a subjective interpretation not only of the law but, far more importantly, of the factual description of the case and the assessment of the guilt or innocence of the offender. Hence, it can be argued that victim impact statements merely serve the purpose of alleviating the victim from suffering from the emotional burden brought about by the case which is not an immediate concern in determining the merit of the case or the disposition which the legal court will take.

On another note, alternative dispute resolutions or ADR are resolutions which comprise processes involved in the resolution of disputes as well as techniques which reside beyond the scopes of the judicial system of the government. In essence, ADR can be taken to mean as an alternative form of resolution to criminal litigation in criminal courts where the concerned parties are given the chance to weight the options and the odds for every option. Once the involved parties arrive at a substantial arrangement, the most likely result will be that no case will be filed for litigation in the court.

Moreover, it has also been observed that ADR has the potential benefit of an immediate resolution to the pending problem between the two parties involved. This is because an immediate and direct confrontation between the parties without an intermediating body will ensure a direct process where the demands or requests are clearly stated and laid down for both parties to comprehend without an external or a third-party judgment. More importantly, ADR has the potential benefit of not prosecuting an individual who is presumed to be innocent or who is in fact innocent of the charges.

It allows for certain adjustments among the parties without the hassle of being able to meet time constraints in most legal proceedings.


Engen, R. L. , Steen, S. , & Bridges, G. S. (2002). Racial Disparities in the Punishment of Youth: A Theoretical and Empirical Assessment of the Literature. Social Problems, 49(2), 194. Gold, M. (1967). On Social Status and Delinquency. Social Problems, 15(1), 114. Hart, S. D. , Webster, C. D. , & Menzies, R. J. (1993). A Note on Portraying the Accuracy of Violence Predictions. Law and Human Behavior, 17(6), 695.