Sexual Abuse

Criminal justice is intended to link practice with broader social goals that are associated with certain values and assumptions. Some goals are more sensitive to the interests of society; others are more attuned to individual needs. The popularity of each goal varies with the social priorities and influential interests of the time. Criminal justice theory explicitly recognizes four formal goals: deterrence, incapacitation, rehabilitation, and retribution.

Each involves specific policies and a particular practice in criminal justice may occur between two or more distinct goals as with this case with Ryan and Lisa. Deterrence uses punitive sanctions to dissuade persons from committing criminal offenses in the future. Deterrence theory and policy revolves around modes of punishment and focus on the police, prosecutorial and judicial operations. Incapacitation is to reduce or eliminate the capacity of offenders to commit additional crimes.

Rehabilitation is designed to change offenders by removing the motivation to engage in criminal behavior. Retribution is based on moral reprobation or outrage at criminal misconduct. The punishment must also be proportionate to the harm caused or risked, but mercy can be extended once it is acknowledged that the punishment is deserved. Since the end of the nineteenth century, legislators and judges have attempted to devise a plan for handling juvenile cases. Children were increasingly seen as vulnerable, innocent, passive and dependent beings that need extended preparation for life.

The juvenile courts were given jurisdictions over unruly children and laws were enacted allowing state intervention when the parents are inadequate for the task of rearing the children. This legal doctrine of parens patriage (the state as a parent) legitimated intervention. Under this doctrine, juvenile court personnel used informal discretionary procedures to diagnose the causes and prescribe the cures for delinquency. By separating children from adults and providing a rehabilitative alternative to punishment, juvenile courts rejected the jurisprudence of criminal law and its procedural safeguards.

Proceedings in the juvenile courts under this system were considered civil rather than criminal, based on the theory that a child’s “best interests” guided the disposition of the cases. There was to be no thought of crime and punishment; the only consideration was for the welfare of the child. As the whole program was to be clinical rather than punitive, the rigidities and technicalities of criminal procedures were to be discarded. The Uniform Juvenile Court Act was drawn with the view to fully meet the mandates of the Kent and Gault decisions.

The National Conference of commissioners on Uniform State Laws, in 1968, approved and adopted the Uniform Juvenile Court Act, and recommended that the Act be approved by the American Bar Association and that it be publicize as their enactment. The American Bar Association followed that recommendation and adopted the Uniform Juvenile Court Act in August 1968. The Act was to assure a much needed uniformity in the law among several states. A juvenile is a person who has not attained his or her eighteenth birth.

When a juvenile is charged with an offense, the decision to transfer from juvenile to adult status is within the discretion of the district judge, as long as factors, such as the juvenile’s age and social background, the nature of the alleged and psychological maturity, the nature of and response to past treatments, and the availability of programs designed to treat the juveniles problems. A federal court in the case of United States v. M. H. , a juvenile, broadly discussed the factors that must be considered before a juvenile can be transferred to adult status in Federal court.

Most states divide juveniles into three categories. Dependent children are those who have been abused or neglected by their parents. Delinquent children are those who have committed acts that would be criminal if committed by an adult. Status offenders are those whose acts are only unlawful because of their status of minors. In the Uniform Juvenile Court Act, delinquent act means an act designed as a crime under the law including ordinances of the state or of another state if the act occurred in that state or under federal law, and the crime does not fall under specific paragraphs of the statue.

A delinquent child is used in the Act to mean a child who has committed a delinquent act and is in need of treatment or rehabilitation. In some state statues a delinquent is defined as a person under the age of 18 who has violated the criminal laws of the jurisdiction. Delinquency is simply a substitute label for criminal behavior by a juvenile. Normally the act would be labeled as criminal if committed by an adult. The only distinction is in the age of the individual who is violating the law. A crime is not committed if the mind of the person doing the act is innocent.

An infant is exempt from criminal responsibility for his or her acts if sufficient mental capacity to entertain the criminal intent is lacking. At common law a child under the age of seven was conclusively presumed to be incapable of having the necessary criminal intent and could not commit a crime. Even if the child confessed to the act, and even if the state introduced evidence to indicate that the child knew the differenced between right and wrong, there could be no conviction for that crime.

A child between the ages of 7 and 14 was presumed not to have the capacity to commit the crime, but the prosecution could introduce evidence to show that in fact the child did possess the necessary mental capacity to entertain the criminal intent. In the majority of the states, criminal acts committed by juveniles are generally considered in juvenile court. Exceptions are made when certain more serious crimes are committed, in which case the juvenile court may waive jurisdiction.

While the juvenile court must afford a hearing before a case can be transferred from juvenile court to criminal court, there is some indication that more juveniles, especially those who have reached the chronological age of 16 or above will be processed through the adult criminal procedure channels, if their crimes are of a serious nature. Often in a criminal case the defendant claims that he is entitled to an acquittal because of the time of the crime he was so impaired by mental illness or retardation as to be insane within the meaning of the criminal law definitions.

Mental incapacity or insanity may be used by one accused of crimes at several points in the criminal procedure and for several different purposes. In some instances, the term insanity is distinguished from in competency to stand trial; insanity refers to the defendant’s mental state at the time of the crime and in competency to stand trial referring to the mental condition of the accused at the time of the trial. In most cases it is the mental condition of the defendant at the time of the commission of the act that is alleged to constitute the crime for which he or she is on trial.

Diversion programs aimed at preventing offenders from entering the formal process of the criminal justice system have been created around the country. Most of these programs target juvenile population. The United States began experiencing drastic overcrowding in its juvenile and adult correctional facilities during the 1970’s. Diversion programs were advocated on two fronts; one, avoidance of negative labeling associated with formal processing and two, cost savings from reducing the prison population.

Deterrence theorists maintain that future criminal activity can be reduced through effective threats of sanctioning. General deterrence principles suggest that the general population will be deterred from offending if perceived sanctions are implemented with sufficient speed, certainty and severity. Specific deterrence refers to the reduction in subsequent offending by someone who already has received a sanction as a result of prior offending.

Three strikes legislation, habitual offender laws, boot camps, and juvenile waiver to adult court are representative of the belief that crime can be deterred by repressive justice system strategies. When looking over the facts of the crime there would be several things to consider. The first would be the state or jurisdiction the crime was committed and how that state or jurisdiction handles and decides juveniles’ cases. The second would be Ryan’s mental competency. This would determine what court would handle the decisions and outcome of his criminality.

Since he is physically 16, he could have a mental capacity of a younger individual and this would affect the outcome of proceedings drastically such as initial interviews, the reading of his Miranda rights and all the way to the sentencing phase. Since Ryan is charged with a felony sex offense he could be sentenced as a juvenile into a diversion program that deals mainly with the crime committed. Family therapy or psychoanalysis could be effective for victim and juvenile delinquent alike.

Without treatment there is a high rate of recidivism and since he has had 2 previous misdemeanors for unlawful sexual contact this, I believe is probably the case. The largest number of domestic violence cases takes place not between the adults in the family, but among siblings. Family violence is more prominent in lower-class homes than in the other social structures of society. This does not mean that such crimes are unique to the lower classes, but only that family violence disproportionately plaques that social group. Conflict theory is useful for interpreting family violence.