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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 72268 Find in a Library
Title: Making Decisions in Juvenile Court (From Fonction sociale du tribunal de la jeunesse, P 49-60, 1979 - See NCJ-72264)
Author(s): F Vanheule
Date Published: 1980
Page Count: 12
Format: Document
Language: Dutch
Country: Belgium
Annotation: The role of Dutch judges and juvenile courts as well as the specific methods used by juvenile court judges in reaching decisions are outlined.
Abstract: When faced with a concrete problem, Dutch judges are expected to gain understanding for the social reality of the problem, while seeking the principle most applicable to the problem from his store of experience. In reaching decisions, judges just not only sort out facts and rules, but must consider such factors as the nature of the matter and the basic values involved in the case. The judge must be familiar with procedural rules, and he must be capable of reconciling diverse concepts and points of view, while assessing the priority of values in the laws and customs of his society. To protect against random decisions, judges must seek to achieve uniformity in their decisions and proceed with caution, accepting that their decisions do not represent absolute truth. A judge must therefore possess an open mind, common sense, and wisdom. Juvenile courts in particular have been charged with specific responsibilities. Since 1965 the emphasis has been placed on rendering assistance to juveniles at risk and juvenile delinquents rather than on protecting society. Central to the law are the interests of the child and concern with the child's health, morals and development. Unfortunately, the juvenile courts have become largely a means of limiting juveniles' penalties to fines. The attorney of the Crown has the complex task of assuring that intervention is swift, of making the minor aware of the wrong, of dealing with minors who have injured someone in the course of offenses, and of helping decide what form of assistance would be appropriate for the minor. The courts are encouraged to keep juveniles in their normal environments in all but the most critical situations. The position of the juvenile court judge is difficult, as he must decide what course of action is most feasible to protect each juvenile's interests, balancing the frequently conflicting views of parents and children. Among the issues to be considered is whether the juvenile would not benefit from an alternative to legal proceedings, and whether value conflicts in a case are the result of youthful immaturity or legitimate needs of the juvenile. The judge should seek to involve all parties, in the decisionmaking process, especially the minor in question. The judge's decision should present the rationale for his judgment clearly and should be published with a commentary. The role of juvenile judges in making decisions will remain great as the juvenile code is expanded. Thorough training and continuing education for juvenile court judges are recommended. Several notes are supplied.
Index Term(s): Decisionmaking; Judicial decisions; Judicial discretion; Judicial diversion; Juvenile adjudication; Juvenile codes; Juvenile court diversion; Juvenile courts; Netherlands
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