The juvenile justice system and the adult justice system share their commonalities and differences. For example, the juvenile justice system makes it the point to rehabilitate instead of punishing juvenile delinquents. However, one must take into consideration that punishment is still a feasible concept within the juvenile system, but it is used prudently as a “last resort.” In instances of punishment for a teenager who is accused of an atrocious crime, he or she may be tried as an adult (Goldstein, 2007). According to Dr. Goldstein (2007) there are some similarities between the two justice systems as he states that “the police, judiciary, and corrections have discretion relative to decision making in both systems.”
For those adults and juveniles that admit guilt there is a system of procedural safeguards to protect their rights. Additionally, other commonalities between the age separated groups include plea bargaining, as well as the right to hearings and appeals. However, when adults are tried for crimes, they are tried in the adult court, while juveniles are tried in the juvenile court. Other differences exist, as Goldstein (2007) further states that “juvenile proceedings are not viewed as criminal,” and that “juvenile records, court hearings, etc. are confidential and not normally accessible; adult records are public.”
Both juveniles and adults have the right to counsel in court proceedings. Nevertheless, juveniles may be represented by court appointed advocates who look out for the juvenile’s “best interest,” as a parent would for his or her child; with right ways to help the child rehabilitate. In the case of adult trials, court appointed advocates may be representing the accused, but the “best interest” lies in reducing or foregoing the sentence, not rehabilitate (Goldstein, 2007). In the cases of both groups, a “traditional” counsel may be hired to represent the individual(s).
While due process is given to all (juveniles and adults alike), juvenile offenders seem to be helped out more than adult offenders. Also, children tried as juveniles cannot be sentenced to adult jails or prisons. There are many debates over these and the other aforementioned practices, with critics and proponents on all issues, but I personally think the system is good and it can only get better with time.
Goldstein, D. (2007). The Juvenile Justice System. Retrieved June 14, 2007, from Boston University Vista Website: http://vista.bu.edu/webct/