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Juvenile and Adult Courts: A Comparative Analysis

The functioning of the juvenile justice system is highly important for the sustainable development of the entire society. It is necessary to create a set of stimuli for encouraging youth to reconsider their behavior and adopt socially acceptable strategies. This paper examines the major similarities and differences between juvenile and adult courts, as well as other related issues. In general, the existing differences are considerable, and their existence means that juvenile criminal activities are considered a distinct social and legal problem.

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Overview of the Juvenile Justice System

The juvenile justice system refers to a number of institutions and measures aimed at dealing with young people convicted of committing different crimes (Caudill, Morris, Sayed, Yun, & DeLisi, 2013). The major focus of the juvenile justice system is on offenders rather than offenses. It implies that all elements of the justice system contribute to the rehabilitation of juvenile offenders. As their behavior patterns and life views are not well established, effectively designed procedures may lead to the desired changes.

The major institutions of the juvenile justice system include courts, police, and correctional facilities (Caudill et al., 2013). Despite the positive intentions of the juvenile justice system, its current effectiveness is low. In particular, rehabilitation measures often do not lead to the sustainable positive results. Another problem refers to addressing the needs of youths with mental and learning disabilities. As a result, they do not have the necessary amount of opportunities when they leave the justice institution (Koon, 2014). In general, the contemporary juvenile justice system in the United States is comparatively ineffective, at least in relation to fulfilling its key functions.

Comparison between Juvenile and Adult Courts

There are both substantial similarities and differences between juvenile and adult courts in the United States. The major similarities include the adherence to the basic procedural norms and the respect for individual liberties (Koon, 2014). In particular, both juveniles and adults are informed about their Miranda warning rights before participating in criminal proceedings. Moreover, both juveniles and adults possess the right to witness testimony and the essential right against self-incrimination. Thus, they may use all available legal means for protecting their rights.

At the same time, substantial differences also exist. Firstly, different terminology is utilized. For example, the term defendant is not used in relation to juveniles; the term minor is used for this purpose. Secondly, the right to bail is not applicable to juvenile court proceedings. Thirdly, no jury trials exist in juvenile courts. Fourthly, guardians and parents also participate in criminal proceedings (Leiber, Peck, & Rodriguez, 2016). Furthermore, the application of probationary sentences is different, as juvenile court judges have fewer options in this regard. Finally, juvenile court hearings are usually closed to the public. The only exception may refer to especially violent offenses. Thus, the number of differences even exceeds that of similarities. Currently, juveniles are treated differently in comparison with adults, which seems reasonable from a broad social perspective.

Adjudication Process

There are also specific procedures that allow transferring juveniles to the adult court system. There are three major mechanisms for organizing this transferring. The first one is the judicial waiver. The judge has the right to waive the existing juvenile jurisdiction. As a result, juveniles can be transferred to the adult courts. The second one is concurrent jurisdiction. This original jurisdiction applies both to juvenile and adult offenders. In this case, the prosecutor can file such instances in any of these courts. The third one is the statutory exclusion. It means that the state statute may exclude some juveniles from a specific juvenile court jurisdiction. According to these regulations, the cases originate in criminal courts. Therefore, they should be dealt accordingly. Thus, the justice system recognizes the need for transferring juveniles to adult courts in some cases (Caudill et al., 2013). The selection of the ultimate method depends on the judges objectives and the corresponding social threats.

Implications of Increasing the Use of Waivers and Remanding Juveniles to Adult Court for Proceedings

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The major explanation for the current trend of increasing the use of waivers refers to the fact that many juveniles are involved in committing violent offenses (Caudill et al., 2013). As a result, the judge has to use waivers for determining the degree of the minors guilt and developing the adequate rehabilitation procedures. It may also decrease the general social risks associated with individuals participating in repeated criminal activities. However, this trend outlines the highly negative tendency of the growing violence among youths. Thus, the juvenile justice system should also orient to the underlying social, economic, and cultural factors contributing to such young peoples behavior (Koon, 2014). Only in this way, sustainable improvements can be achieved.

The trend of remanding juveniles to adult courts allows assigning harsher punishments for them that are proportional to their offenses. It seems to be a necessary measure as punishment should always be proportional to the crime committed. If juveniles commit a grave crime, they should not receive any benefits associated with their age (Koon, 2014). As a result, harsher punishment may contribute to a better understanding of the dangerous social consequences of ones actions by a juvenile. Thus, the likelihood of reconsidering ones behavior in the future tends to increase. However, harsher punishments and remanding juveniles to the adult courts should be used only if the juvenile is proven guilty of committing a serious offense.

Societal Implication of Abolishing Juvenile Court

It is reasonable to examine the hypothetical situation when all juvenile courts are abolished. Under this scenario, all juvenile offenders would be treated as adults. Correspondingly, they would face much harsher sentences in comparison with the existing system. Moreover, rehabilitation practices would become less efficient as the only focus would be on adult criminals (Leiber et al., 2016). In general, young people would not possess the necessary motivation for reconsidering the behavior and life views.

Therefore, it seems that abolishing juvenile courts is inadmissible under the existing social conditions. It will create substantial social risks in the end, as well as may lead to the systematic violation of individual rights. Thus, the current inefficiencies in the juvenile court system should be addressed via providing corresponding reforms rather than abolishing juvenile courts (Koon, 2014). It is reasonable to consider the major risks and challenges for affecting young peoples behavior. They should comprehend the ultimate negative consequences of their criminal actions. The appeal to their reason and responsibility can be much more effective than mere harsher punishments.


The juvenile justice system is an important element of the overall justice structure in the United States. It consists of police, courts, and various correctional facilities. The system concentrates on rehabilitating youths rather than providing harsher punishments for them. Juvenile and adult courts have both substantial similarities and differences. On the one hand, all offenders possess Miranda rights, the right to witness testimony, and the right against self-incrimination. On the other hand, in the juvenile court system, there is the participation of parents and guardians, jury trials are absent, and the application of the probationary sentence is different.

The adjudication process allows transferring juveniles to adult courts if the committed offenses are grave. The trends of increasing the use of waivers and remanding juveniles to adult courts mean that a larger number of young people are involved in violent crimes. Correspondingly, harsher punishments are needed to reverse this tendency. However, abolishing juvenile courts will have a highly negative social outcome. Thus, the major focus should be on timely and effective reforms.

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