It must also be pointed out that the simplicity and expediency in the proceedings conducted before the juvenile courts can also be disadvantageous to the minor offenders. Since the proceedings and hearings are usually conducted in private, abuses with court processes cannot be adequately safeguarded. The same is prejudicial to the minor offender because it cannot be determined if the laws are faithfully followed in resolving his case.
So also, the rise in the number of cases involving juvenile violence clog the dockets of juvenile courts, and so despite the expediency promised, the minor would have to be burdened by a certain period of delay in waiting for the disposition or resolution of his case. The advantages and disadvantages of the juvenile courts, as stated above, has been considered and weighed due to the prevalent debate concerning the abolition of the juvenile courts. The critics of the juvenile justice system wish to abolish the juvenile court, and suggest that minor offenders be tried just like any other offender within the jurisdiction.
This means that if the minor is found guilty of having committed an offense, he will serve sentence in a penitentiary together with other criminals, without regard to the difference in their age. The critics of the juvenile justice system, justify their position regarding the matter thus, Such extreme violence by very young juveniles is rare, but the reaction to it reflects public opinion about the juvenile justice system. Youth who violate the law are no longer guaranteed special treatment simply because they are young.
As yet, no state has formally abolished the juvenile court's exclusive jurisdiction over young offenders, but every state in the country has taken significant steps in that direction. It appears increasingly likely that the states will ultimately abolish the concept of delinquency and that all law violations by young people will one day be handled in criminal court. In other words, the day may come when a crime is a crime is a crime, regardless of the offender's age (Butts and Harell, 1998). Hence, there is a claim that offenders or violators of the law should be dealt with equally, regardless of the fact that the offender is merely a minor.
Although it is true that one of the societal impacts of the abolition of the juvenile courts is that retribution will be given to the State and to the victim of the criminal offense, it must also be considered that said abolition also has an impact to the growth and development of the youth in the society. As mentioned earlier, even if a minor has committed an infraction, it is not reason enough to make him suffer the same consequences as that suffered by adult offenders. There are a lot of factors which makes a minor different from an adult, one of which is the ability to act with discernment.
Hence, to abolish juvenile courts will affect the society greatly in the sense that the youth within the society will no longer have the chance to reform if they are automatically sent to the penitentiary. There is also the possibility that due to early exposure to the adversarial nature of a court trial, coupled with the possibility of spending his formative years inside a penitentiary, the child will grow up with a violent or rebellious character. Hence, instead of preventing the commission of future crimes, there is a probability that he will commit future offenses when he grows up.
This is an important societal impact that must be intensively considered before the authorities abolish the juvenile courts. It is believed that the juvenile courts should make certain modifications in the proceedings in order to make the offenders understand the gravity of the offense they have committed without having to dispense with its main objective of reforming or correcting the minor concerned. Hence, longer periods of social service work or sessions with appropriate agencies should be ordered by the courts. So also, it must be pointed out that the proceedings concerning minor offenders should not absolutely be held in private.
Reasonable discretion should be exercised by the judge in determining the people who are allowed to watch and observe the hearing or trial of the case of the minor offender. There must also be safeguards to insure that court processes and the law are strictly complied with. Lastly, it is believed that despite the expediency and simplicity promised by juvenile court proceedings, it must be shown that the judge carefully decided the case brought before him, and he must make a finding as to liability of the minor offender if he is found guilty of the offense complained of.
This is to ensure that no special treatment is accorded the minor. In conclusion, the similarities between the juvenile courts and the regular courts are outnumbered by their crucial and fundamental differences. The said differences offer disadvantages and disadvantages, not only to the youth offenders, but also to the society in general. Hence in determining whether or not the juvenile courts must be abolished, the said differences, together with the advantages and disadvantages they bring must be weighed thoroughly.
More importantly, the reformation of the youth offender and his mental and emotional growth and development should always be regarded as the primordial concern.
Jeffrey A. Butts and Adele V. Harell (1998), “Delinquents or Criminals”, <http://www. urban. org/publications/307452. html> “Juvenile”, http://www. ncsconline. org/D_Research/CSP/2003_Files/2003_Juvenile. pdf “Juvenile vs. Adult Criminal System Lawyers”, <http://www. legalmatch. com/law-library/article/juvenile-vs-adult-criminal-system. html> “Juvenile Justice Reform Initiatives in the States 1994-1996”, <http://ojjdp. ncjrs. org/pubs/reform/ch2_i. html>