The Juvenile Justice System Is Not Reflective Of Their National Population

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It is estimated that on any given day, there are roughly 79,000 adolescents held at juvenile facilities all across the United States (Sickmund & Puzzanchera, 2014). Of that population, Latino and African American youth represent the majority of those in confinement. This is a problem because the overrepresentation of minorities within the juvenile justice system is not reflective of their national population percentages. Nationally, Latino and African American youth only comprise 38% of the total juvenile population combined, while Caucasian youth alone represent the majority of the population with 56% (The Census Bureau, 2010). Though various studies have been able to affirm the overrepresentation of minority youth within the juvenile…show more content…
Historical Background Juvenile incarceration has been a controversial issue long before the formation of the Juvenile Justice system. During the 18th century, Americans adopted Great Britain’s English Common Laws, which believed in “malice supplies the age” (Blackstone, 1769). This meant that children as young as seven years old could be convicted of crimes to the same degree as adults. During this period, the courts did not acknowledge the variance in cognition between children and adults, so they were tried equally. As a result, children were incarcerated with adult offenders, where they were exposed to risk of maltreatment and corruption (The American Bar Association). The American Juvenile Justice System is still fairly new. The first juvenile court was established shortly over a century ago in 1899 in Chicago, Illinois. During its formation, the philosophies concerning juvenile justice shifted from a punitive standpoint to a more rehabilitative approach (McCarter, 2011). This was the court’s first attempt to acknowledge the distinctive cognitive and maturity levels between children and adults. Therefore, juvenile courts were meant to function as civil courts instead of criminal courts, placing minimal focus on the offenses committed by juveniles and instead focusing on their
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