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Pros and Cons of Abolishing The Juvenile Court System

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Table of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Counter Argument
  3. My Argument
  4. Conclusion


The juvenile court system was established in the 1890’s with the purpose to rehabilitate delinquent children. Juvenile delinquency is defined as a violation of criminal code by delinquent children, and each state has a different age for what they consider a juvenile. Many judges felt that criminal children needed help, guidance, love and a second opportunity by using education method rather than humiliation, degradation and torment. Juveniles require different court and sentencing procedures to avoid labeling juveniles. Unfortunately there is the juvenile system is not serving its purpose, it has become a secondary prison for youth offenders.

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Young children have a higher chance of rehabilitation than adults do and a lower recidivism rate. Most juveniles are given prohibition and sent to a social service or program to be helped. It is important for juveniles to avoid being locked up in solitary confinement because most children are not guilty and tried for a status crime. Juveniles are not just breaking the laws they are also children who disobey they’re parents such as running away from home. They are not guilty but they are breaking rules and deserve a different type of rehabilitation program. Many believe the system is not serving its purpose and should be abolished, however more damage will be done if a juvenile goes through the adult system.

Juvenile courts are necessary, the system does need to be reformed to serve its actual purpose but the system should not be abolished.

Counter Argument

The juvenile system has not been serving its purpose of proving rehab programs to youths; it is been created into “youth jail” instead. Juveniles are not given the same rights during court proceedings as adults are; yet juveniles are being incarcerated as adults are. This is a problem because a minor cannot be sentenced the same as an adult if they are denied an attorney. Many would like the system to be abolished because of its nature and the coast to keep the system is high.

The juvenile system is inconsistent with sentencing and proceedings. Juveniles are being sentenced for a longer term than the adults are being sentenced for the same crime. This is because minors are not granted the same rights as adult criminals. The Connecticut juvenile training center will soon be closing because studies have shown that children need to be closer to home or in their own home for a more successful rehabilitation. Connecticut is pushing for a program that will punish children in a home setting or even place children in a foster home. The goal is to keep juveniles away from the adult system and anything similar to an adult like prison.

Instead of completely eliminating the juvenile system or creating a new program, it would be easier to reform the system we currently have.

Although the juvenile system acts like a child prison, the children in it have a lower recidivism rate than adults in the adult system. Youths placed in an adult prison have a higher rate of recidivism and higher rate of rape because adult prisons are schools for crime. Youths come out of adult prisons knowing more about how to commit crimes rather than getting help. Juveniles require different treatment than adults do because their minds are not as developed and they cannot always be held responsible for their actions.

My Argument

Although the juvenile justice system has not completely served its full purpose, it has not failed youths. The recidivism rates of youths are lower in the juvenile system than youths and adults in the adult system. It is important to separate juveniles because the terms and proceedings in juvenile court are different from adult court. Labeling theory has an affect on juveniles and the court for youths avoids labeling children as criminals. According to Liberman, Kirk and Kim, “Generally, labeling theory predicts that an official response to delinquency promotes future delinquency”. Children who are labeled often fulfill the label given to them, meaning they act according to the how they are viewed by the public. Labeled deviants may then associate with more deviant peers withdraw from conventional pursuits and ultimately engage in criminal offending at a higher rate than otherwise similar individuals who have not been labeled “deviant”” (Liberman, Kirk & Kim). In this case of, juveniles who are sent to go through the adult system would be labeled as criminals; the juvenile system avoids the label and sentences them typically to prohibition or a social service.

Punishment and solitary confinement is not going to heal juveniles. Most states recognize juveniles under the age 18 because 18 or younger are the easiest ages to rehabilitate. Not all juveniles react well to tough punishments or solitary confinement, the juvenile justice system is created to balance both punishment and rehabilitation support. In a study conducted by Daniel P. Mears, Justin T. Pickett and Christina Mancini (2014), “balanced justice arguably constitutes a central approach to sanctioning youth that should be investigated in studies of public opinion about youth justice. To do other-wise is to risk creating a distorted image of the public as being primarily punitive in how it wants juvenile offenders to be sanctioned. In this case, the issue runs deeper—the very nature of the juvenile court, its foundation, rests on ideas about the importance of both punishment and rehabilitation.” Although the current system is not doing its job by balancing both, it cannot just be eliminated; instead it just needs to be reformed.

Reforming the justice system would not be a waste of money because combining both court systems will have a negative affect on youths. Judges in the juvenile system have more flexibility when sentencing, than in the adult system. These judges are able to determine what type of service or punishment each individual needs based on their age, environment and nature of the crime they committed. According to study conducted on delinquents, “juvenile delinquents exhibit from childhood a higher rate of behaviors suggesting executive function and self-control difficulties (such as fights, petty thefts, vandalism and early use of alcohol and drugs) compared with other adolescents” (Borrani, et al). Some juveniles possible suffer from developmental delay and have problems regarding self-control; therefore not all youths are guilty which is why it is important for judges to have flexibility though the sentencing process. Many youths would have no chance of getting better if the juvenile system was completely eliminated.

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Some states support the closing of the juvenile system because there is belief that an alternate program such as keeping children in their home or sent to a foster home will be more beneficial. Weather a new juvenile program is created or the current system is reformed, it is important to ensure that the juvenile system and the adult system to not fuse. Eliminating the system would be detrimental for youths.

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Pros And Cons Of Abolishing The Juvenile Court System. (2019, March 12). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 4, 2023, from
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