Criminal Youth Justice System
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Prior to the early 19th Century, there was no criminal youth justice system in place within the United States. If youths under the age of 18 of year were arrested or prosecuted for a crime, they were tried in the adult criminal justice system. In 1825, the state of New York established the first criminal youth justice system. A house of refuge for youths under the age of 18 was established because it was realized that children had different needs than adult criminals and committed crimes for different reasons. Gradually, each state within the country began to adopt the state of New York’s beliefs about the need for a separate criminal justice system for youths.
Department of Justice
Although overseen by the U.S. Department of Justice and the federal agency, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, each state within the country is responsible for establishing, maintaining, and monitoring its own criminal youth justice system. Most states within the country follow a similar structure for this system. When apprehended, youths under the age of 18 years of age are separated into two different categories: judicial cases and non-judicial cases. Cases that qualify as being judicial are serious offenses that are forwarded to juvenile or family court systems. If a youth is found guilty of a crime, he or she is then are sent to a juvenile detention center to undergo rehabilitation. There are still instances where crimes are so severe that a youth under the age of 18 would be tried and prosecuted in the adult criminal justice system of the United States.
Restorative Justice for Juvenile Justice System
In the United States, the juvenile justice system focuses mainly on restorative justice. Restorative justice has been submitted as an improved alternative to other methods of rehabilitation and punitive response in terms of successfully rehabilitating the offender for reasons that include but are not confined to its ability to:
- Restore and satisfy offenders better than existing practices
- Restore and satisfy victims and communities better than existing practices
- Reduce, deter and incapacitate crime better than existing practices
- Reduce costs more than existing practices
These attributes make restorative justice a model of rehabilitation that affects the restoration of everyone involved in the criminal offense, a clear departure from the traditionally offender-centered approach to rehabilitation.