Juvenile Delinquency in the States Essays

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Juvenile Delinquency in the States

Presently, juvenile justice is widely acknowledged as being in a state of flux in the United States. The early 1990s saw the most substantial rise in violent crime committed by juveniles ever experienced in this country. On the heels of decades of skepticism about the effectiveness of parens patriae (the state as parent), this rise was the "proof" for many "experts" who believe that the juvenile justice system should be abolished. These skeptics reason that one criminal court could still have some latitude when sentencing younger offenders, but that kids are now committing adult crimes, so it is time to treat them as adults.

Fortunately, this is not the prevailing view. While it is a force in the
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What I did not anticipate, and in hindsight, I believe I could not have anticipated, was the difficulty I encountered in obtaining juvenile justice statistics on the state level. My first juvenile justice paper was a descriptive one; that was, it was subjective and opinionated. Political Science 402 required a more objective approach backed by empirical data.

Researching juvenile justice is difficult for a number of reasons. First and foremost, juvenile court records are sealed. While this did not present a direct imposition on my research, agencies that compile juvenile justice statistics have a difficult task in obtaining data comparable to that which is available on adult criminal justice. Juveniles only become truly media-accessible when they are transferred to adult criminal court, which may be why we hear so much about the rise in violent juvenile crime today. Generally speaking, the American public does not take an interest in crime until it becomes a viable threat. Murderers, particularly young ones who are stereotyped as naive and innocent, are often newsworthy because they feed the paranoia which prevails in our society. For these reasons, I wanted to see if juvenile crime truly is as prevalent and heinous as it is generally portrayed by the media.

Crime statistics are divided into many different categories, which
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