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NCJ Number: 149447 Find in a Library
Title: Rethinking the Juvenile Justice System
Journal: Crime and Delinquency  Volume:39  Issue:2  Dated:(April 1993)  Pages:262- 271
Author(s): T Hirschi; M Gottfredson
Date Published: 1993
Page Count: 10
Type: Research (Theoretical)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: The authors argue that the criminal characteristics and severity of offenses do not vary between adults and juveniles, so they should be processed in the same system, one that resembles the juvenile justice system more than the current adult system.
Abstract: Crime is the product of the confluence of individuals who have poor self-control (tendency to ignore the long-term consequences of one's acts) and the availability of appropriate opportunities. The likelihood that a person will commit a crime varies continuously with age, but the consequences of a criminal act for the victims and society has nothing to do with the age of the offender. Distinctions in criminal justice processing based on age are thus arbitrary and probably cause more trouble than they are worth. The distinctive processing of juveniles is based on an erroneous view of developmental sequences and misrepresents differences between juvenile and adult crime. Consequently, one justice system would be better than two; of the model currently available, the juvenile system is preferable to the adult system. The rationale for the juvenile justice system, i.e., the need for juveniles to receive more offender-oriented dispositions that emphasize treatment to reduce recidivism, should also apply to adult offenders. Further, if benefits accrue to juveniles from limiting the stigma attached to criminal justice proceedings (through expunging records and using diversion from formal processing when appropriate), then the same should be true for adults. The welfare interest of the juvenile court would not be affected by its extension to adults, who for whatever reason (mental incapacitation, temporary homelessness, spousal abuse) are unable to care for themselves. The corruption argument for the use of separate facilities for juveniles and adults is not appropriate, since the offenses committed by juveniles are just as serious as those committed by adults. Also, the juvenile justice system incarcerates a significantly lower percentage of juveniles without seeing a resulting increase in crime. The same approach with adults promises a more cost-effective approach to corrections. 10 references
Main Term(s): Juvenile justice system
Index Term(s): Age group comparisons; Juvenile to adult criminal careers; Models
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