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NCJ Number: 74159 Find in a Library
Title: Juvenile Justice in West Virginia - A Changing Landscape (From Juvenile Justice in Rural America, P 58-66, 1980, Joanne Jankovic et al, ed. See NCJ-74156)
Author(s): K N Chambers; E J Miner
Date Published: 1980
Page Count: 9
Sponsoring Agency: Superintendent of Documents, GPO
Washington, DC 20402
Sale Source: Superintendent of Documents, GPO
Washington, DC 20402
United States of America
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: More humane and effective youth strategies in West Virginia are impeded by structural flaws in juvenile justice and delinquency prevention systems and by the resistance of law enforcement to institutionalization alternatives for status offenders.
Abstract: The Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act of 1974 was a response to the suggestion that the identification process operating within the juvenile court setting (either arrest or referral from parent, citizen, school) which labeled youths as deviant might contribute to delinquency by providing a negative self-image to which youths would seek to conform. The Act also recognized that institutionalization of youths, especially status offenders, was not rehabilitative and that community-based programs were more humane, effective, and less expensive. However, West Virginia continued to incarcerate status offenders until July 1977, when the State's code was amended to make instant incarceration illegal. Much of the opposition to this and subsequent legislation was generated by law enforcement officials, especially rural judges and police officers who were inconvenienced by restrictions on where juveniles could be held and how quickly hearings had to take place. Even where alternatives existed, officials resisted using them and residential shelters for runaways received few referrals directly from the court or police. Community-based agencies providing services to children and families in crisis to forestall youths' ensnarement in the juvenile justice system operate only in West Virginia's urban areas. Proposed State delinquency prevention plans concentrate on expensive specialized services (day treatment, foster care) for a small number of youths and on projects that reflect the predilections of agencies and institutions rather than the needs of troubled juveniles. The crucial goal of separating juveniles from the adult criminal population and decriminalizing status offenders remains unresolved. Committed citizen support is needed for a variety of community-based, youth-oriented efforts. Footnotes containing references are included.
Index Term(s): Alternatives to institutionalization; Community involvement; Community-based corrections (juvenile); Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act; Juvenile justice system; Police attitudes; Reform; Status offender diversion; Status offense decriminalization; West Virginia
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