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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 77601 Find in a Library
Title: Juvenile Justice
Journal: Children's Legal Rights Journal  Volume:2  Issue:5  Dated:special issue (Mar/Apr 1981)  Pages:6-12
Author(s): A Donahue
Date Published: 1981
Page Count: 7
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Trends in juvenile justice since the 1967 In re Gault decision are discussed with particular attention to children's constitutional rights, waiver to adult courts, and right to treatment.
Abstract: Although children are treated differently from adults in the hands of the law, the results produced by the juvenile system are similar to those of the criminal process. The Supreme Court's In re Gault decision resulted in a major expansion of the legal rights of children during the 1970's, but still allowed the judicial discretion and procedural informality that characterized the traditional juvenile court. The question for the 1980's is whether or not the flexibility that remains in the system should be abandoned because the abuses tend to outweigh the benefits. Status offenses have already been separated from criminal acts in the juvenile court, but a future option might involve family arbitration sessions where confinement is not the ultimate sanction. Many legislators are likely to reject the treatment theory entirely for the violent juvenile offender, while others might support a unified criminal justice system which would consider youthfulness as one of the factors in sentencing. Parameters have not been clearly defined concerning Fourth Amendment requirements establishing probable cause to take a youth into custody, and children still do not have full protection against unreasonable searches and seizures. Highly disputed areas include parental consent for searching a child's room and school searches. While the rights to remain silent and retain counsel do apply to children, the effect of age on ability to give a truly voluntary statement or to understand a voluntary waiver of rights has been questioned. A viable approach adopted by some States does not permit a child to waive any constitutional rights without meaningful consultation with a trusted adult. Although minors have been afforded many due process rights, they still do not have rights to jury trials, open court proceedings, and bail. Attacks on juvenile dispositions have charged that confinement in some correctional programs constitutes cruel and unusual punishment or that the juvenile system has failed to provide adequate treatment and thus should forfeit custody. Some courts have upheld the juvenile's right to better treatment, and more suits probably will be instituted in the 1980's on behalf of youths warehoused in training schools. The article includes 28 footnotes.
Index Term(s): Juvenile justice system; Rights of minors
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