A juvenile court judge Ernestine Gray, stated that the greatest importance was to be accorded to children and that they were to be treated as humans. Further, the principal natural resource of mankind is the child. He opined that the children, who were arraigned in the juvenile courts, had been deserted, discarded, humiliated, ill-treated, ruined and scorned. Moreover, these hapless children had been frequently harmed by relatives, school authorities, probation officers, judges and society. Consequently, it was essential to help these juvenile offenders to overcome their pain and move ahead in life (Gray, Summer2005 ).
The drawback of the juvenile justice system is that minority youth are targeted by it. In some states like California, minorities are discriminated against and their criminal history is screened with greater attention than white offenders. Moreover, the cases of such juveniles are more frequently transferred to criminal courts where they are punishes in a much more stringent manner (And Justice for Some). From the perspective of a juvenile delinquent, the extant juvenile system has considerable merit.
For instance, a study conducted in the state of Florida, revealed that the recidivism among juveniles whose cases had been transferred to the criminal courts was significantly greater than in the case of those whose cases had not been transferred. This indicated that the approach adopted by the juvenile justice system was more beneficial towards rehabilitating juvenile delinquents than the criminal court system. In addition, the transfer group members revealed a much greater propensity to indulge in felonious offences (ACLU Fact Sheet on the Juvenile Justice System , 1996).
A recent Florida study compared the recidivism rate of juveniles who were transferred to criminal court versus those who were retained in the juvenile system, and concluded that juveniles who were transferred recidivated at a higher rate than the non-transfer group. Furthermore, the rate of re-offending in the transfer group was significantly higher than the non-transfer group, as was the likelihood that the transfer group would commit subsequent felony offenses (ACLU Fact Sheet on the Juvenile Justice System , 1996).
Therefore, the juvenile justice system is much better at addressing their problems. Furthermore, it is extremely dangerous for juveniles to be imprisoned in adult prisons. The risk of being sodomized is five times more, the risk of being beaten by the jail staff is twice more and the risk of being attacked with weapons is fifty percent more probable in a jail than in a juvenile facility (ACLU Fact Sheet on the Juvenile Justice System , 1996). This indicates that detention in a juvenile facility is of great advantage to the juvenile.
The trial and sentencing of a juvenile offender in a criminal court can is a serious travesty of justice. The criminal court in based on the adult criminal system that adopts an adversarial process and its framework is unyielding. The adult criminal system, which is designed for the prosecution of adults, entails a process that is adversarial, its structure is rigid and hierarchical, and does not take into consideration the fact that a juvenile has limited experience and understanding. The adult court Judges and lawyers are inexperienced in appreciating this limited understanding of a juvenile.
The result is that juveniles are placed at a major disadvantage in comparison to adults, in the adult courts (Young & Gainsborough, 2000). The conclusion reached by a number of studies on juvenile development and competency is that juveniles are incapable of comprehending the extent of their legal rights due to their immaturity and incapacity to appreciate the trial procedure. Some of these disadvantages are that at the time of arrest, juveniles tend to be overwhelmed by persons in authority and make statements that exaggerate the degree of their involvement.
Moreover, they are inconsistent in their description of events with the result that their statements could be disregarded by a judge or jury (Young & Gainsborough, 2000). Further, at the stage of bail or bond hearing, juveniles are at a distinct disadvantage, because the adult court sets bail that a juvenile cannot afford to procure. This is due to the fact that such juveniles are unemployed, do not own property and usually do not have social contacts, with the unfortunate result that many juveniles have to remain in prison (Young & Gainsborough, 2000).