Responding to juvenile delinquency is primary among the multiple responsibilities and obligations of the juvenile justice system in the United States. However, despite widespread punitive policies, the juvenile justice system has never abandoned the traditional rehabilitative goal that was the foundation of the juvenile justice system. As youth have come into the juvenile justice system with more complex problems and greater needs for emotional and behavioral services, there has been more attention on efforts to rehabilitate and address youth’s emotional and behavioral service needs (Bolin, 2014). The juvenile justice system faces many challenges in responding to the delinquency of youth. Since the 1980s and 90s, there have been attempts legislatures to “adultify” the juvenile justice system. Turpin (2000) shares that these changes largely resulted from the growing belief that some juveniles, particularly those involved in violent and serious crimes, deserved to be treated as adults as they were engaging in adult crimes.
The ideas that shaped juvenile justice for over a hundred years have been degraded and attacked, particularly in state government, with a view that juveniles deserve harsher punishment. Some argue that juveniles are responsible for their actions, that they are in essence miniature adults who deserve what they get. However, time has shown that harshly punishing youth by trying them in the adult system has failed as an effective deterrent. The adult court system is said to ignore the environmental factors that affect adolescent behavior, and the juveniles are more likely to be exposed to extreme violence, fall prey to abuse, and suffer from illness (Gondles 2004). Several studies have found higher recidivism rates among juveniles tried and sentenced in adult court than among youth charged with similar offenses in juvenile court. Research also suggests that exposure to violence can lead to issues with development in youth. Charging youth as adults directly ignores this science of adolescent development.
According to the Judeo-Christian viewpoint, the juvenile justice system itself has been has been devastating to the family, society, and ironically, to the offending child. It is believed that juveniles should be treated as juveniles in the court justice system, with a focus on rehabilitating rather than simply punishing. God considers all of the people under 20 as being children. Without a doubt, there were numerous teenagers and other children who were just as sinful as adults. But God did not sentence them to die, as He did the adults. The reason is that God does not hold children to the same accountability as He does adults. I Corinthians 13:11 says: “When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.”
Bolin, R. M. (2014). Adultification in juvenile corrections: A comparison of juvenile and adult
officers. Retrieved from https://scholarcommons.sc.edu/etd/2791
Gondles, J. A. (2004). Kids are kids, not adults. Corrections Today, 66(1), 6-7.
Turpin, J. (2000). Juvenile justice legislation 1999–Change in focus. Corrections Today, 62(6),