Rehabilitation and the Juvenile Justice System

Juvenile Justice and Rehabilitation
The juvenile justice system should focus on rehabilitation. The philosophy that has brought the juvenile justice system this far has been one of change. The earliest treatment of juvenile delinquents was severe punitive treatment, the confinement of juveniles and adults, together and the accepted wisdom that the state should have parental rights over all children. As social changes were emerging, and the needs of troubled children were recognized, things changed for the future of juvenile delinquents. As of late, the “get tough” on crime philosophy has surfaced once again, this has influenced the juvenile justice system. As juvenile crime increases, the uncertainty becomes what to do with this crisis in the United States. Although the courts are handing out harsh punishments to deter juvenile delinquency, the delinquency crime rates are increasing rapidly, and the crimes are more violent and the children more destructive, it does not seem this philosophy is working. When rehabilitation is the main focus, the underlying causes of juvenile delinquency can hopefully be explained, and abated.
Since The Illinois Juvenile Court Act was created in 1899, the initiative of the juvenile court was formed (Schmalleger, 1997). The concept of putting the best interests of the juvenile first was what was advocated with this act. The courts were there to support the juvenile. Unlike adult prosecutions where due process requirements were endorsed, the juvenile courts allowed “informal procedures designed to scrutinize the child’s situation; by sheltering the juvenile from the punishment philosophy of the adult system, the Illinois juvenile court emphasized reformation in place of retribution” (Schmalleger, 1997, p.529).
As the 1990’s brought more juvenile crime, violence, drug abuse, and gang associations, the alternative to the rehabilitation and treatment philosophy in the juvenile justice system would focus on punishment instead of...