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NCJ Number: 205607 Add to Shopping cart Find in a Library
Title: Prosecutor in Juvenile Justice: Advocacy in the Courtroom and Leadership in the Community
Journal: The Prosecutor  Volume:38  Issue:3  Dated:May/June 2004  Pages:37-46
Author(s): James C. Backstrom; Gary L. Walker
Date Published: May 2004
Page Count: 10
Sponsoring Agency: NCJRS Photocopy Services
Rockville, MD 20849-6000
Sale Source: NCJRS Photocopy Services
Box 6000
Rockville, MD 20849-6000
United States of America
Type: Instructional Material
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article discusses both the core functions and the expanding challenges facing today's juvenile prosecutors, including becoming community leaders and teachers who work with community institutions and organizations to prevent juvenile crime.
Abstract: A prosecutor's office should have a single, trained, experienced deputy who can assess the case, the juvenile's criminal and social history, and the dispositional alternatives appropriate for the case. Vertical prosecution (assignment of the same prosecutor to the same case from initial charging through disposition) ensures continuity in the handling of juvenile cases. In addition, the speedy processing of all juvenile cases should be a primary goal, but it is particularly important in dealing with serious, violent, or habitual offenders, because this sends a message to the community and to potential offenders that any violation of the law will bring swift sanctions. Regarding the prosecutor's function as the "gatekeeper" for the juvenile justice system, the discretionary decision to charge or not charge is the heart of the prosecutorial function. Such discretionary decisions require legal expertise, consistency of purpose, and accountability. Charging and disposition guidelines for juvenile cases should be developed by the prosecutor's office. The decision to divert a case from prosecution is also a charging decision. It is a determination that sufficient evidence exists to file a charge in court but that the goals of prosecution can be achieved through diversion for a particular juvenile. The use of diversion program guidelines promotes public confidence that eligibility standards for the program are fair, nondiscriminatory, and appropriate. Although prosecutors should consider the special interests and needs of a juvenile when managing a case, they should also focus on the safety and welfare of the community. In these responsibilities, prosecutors should ensure that crime victims are properly notified of important decisions in the case, participate in community meetings and other activities concerning juvenile crime or crime prevention, and disseminate to the community the written charging and disposition guidelines for juvenile cases. This article also discusses the prosecutor's functions in waiving juvenile court cases to adult courts and in managing child abuse and neglect cases. 81 notes
Main Term(s): Juvenile justice system
Index Term(s): Community involvement; Juvenile courts; Juvenile delinquency prevention; Leadership; Prosecution; Prosecutors
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