Criminal Justice Interface Paper

Introduction

The juvenile justice system is the judicial institution that handles the cases of underage offenders. However, the increase of transfer of these cases to the adult courts is a cause for concern, as repercussions are detrimental to the fabric of society (Scott & Steinberg, 2008). Thus, it is critical to assess the policies that would lead to reduced instances of transfer of juvenile offenders to the criminal court system, despite the notion that these cases are beyond the capacity of juvenile justice system. The traditional standpoint of criminal justice system is shifting toward less transfer of juvenile cases (Mulvey & Schulbert, 2012). Such an era of reliance is the best for a change in policy. It is essential to formulate effective policies to ensure that the subject matter of transferring juveniles to adult criminal justice systems is handled properly and successfully to protect and guide the future generation.

 
 

Description and Significance of the Problem

The juvenile court is an essential institution in rehabilitation process for delinquent children with assistance from the community of social workers, psychiatrists, teachers, and probation officers (Scott & Steinberg, 2008). However, some of the cases are believed to be beyond the power of juvenile, which leads to children being tried in adult courts. As suggested by Simkins (2009), the main courses of transfer are an automatic transfer for cases that commence at the adult court, such as first-degree murder and discretionary transfer for cases that commence at the juvenile court and proceed to an adult court on the orders of judge. The cases transferring depends on the age of the offender and the gravity of the offense.

The significance of transfer issue is based on a variety of factors paramount of which is the severity of adult courts and the sentences, thereof. Juvenile criminals are at a transitional point in their lives, since they are developing into adults, meaning that they can either alter their behavior for better or for worse. Rehabilitation and strict attention will lead to the vanishing of criminal behavior, but it is a costly solution. However, if juveniles continue to be exposed to an environment that is tolerant to crime, they will, most probably, maintain the habit of being offenders. Thus, there is a need for intervention by the responsible parties to avoid the permanence of criminal behavior and guide these children into responsible and principled members of society (Shiraishi-Kukino, 2014).

The significance of dealing with this issue relies on an assortment of reasons; the problem of transferring juveniles to adult courts has become more prevalent in recent times (Fagan, 2008). First, there is a lower rate of recidivism for juvenile court tried offenders than those tried in adult courts. Also, there is a likelihood of harsher punishments from adult courts, which result in difficulties in reentering the society, especially in the case of long-term sentences. Finally, adult prisons render juveniles, as subject to excessive violence and victimization, which would cause them psychological problems (Mulvey & Schubert, 2012). The main forms of interventions to prevent the transfer process of juvenile offenders to adult courts are social work interventions and legal intervention through the criminal justice system.

Policies and Programs on the Issue of Transference

Criminal Justice Views and Policies

The criminal justice system has conventionally held onto the classical standpoint of lenience towards transference about the transfer of juveniles to adult courts. However, in recent times, there have been reconsiderations on this transfer policy. The latest report released by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJPD) on the matter of transfers revealed the ineffectiveness of current juvenile laws and policies at reducing recidivism (Redding, 2008). The issues of lack of fairness through the exposure to excessively harsh punishment and low utility benefits regards to whether this transfer policy works to reduce crime or aggravate the situation pose a challenge to the transfer policies in place with regards to the criminal justice system (Mulvey & Schubert, 2012).

Policy reforms have been carried out in many states to support the effort to extract the youth from criminal justice system that is designated for adults. Such policies include passing the legal provisions that restrict the effort to harbor youth in adult prisons, expanding the jurisdiction of juvenile court to incorporate older youths, and altering minimum sentencing laws to allow for the element of developmental variations of youth and adults to be taken into account. The last one is altering transfer laws to increase the chances of youth, remaining within the juvenile court system (Neelum, 2011).

Social Work Views and Policies

The perspective of social workers on the issue of transferring juvenile offenders to adult courts is to avoid this course of action. The general public and specifically the social workers are of the opinion that young offenders should not be transferred to adult courts but should instead undergo rehabilitation. A national survey has disclosed that 89% of the public support rehabilitation and behavior management through restitution, therapy and community service programs (Redding, 2008). The logic behind this kind of intervention is that the juveniles are a part of society and even after they leave prison, they will come back into the community. Whether their behavior improves or worsens depends on their experience and mentality, which is shaped by their environment and the prison they go to.

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Detailed Description of Proposed Program/Policy to Address Problem

Proposed Policy and Responsible Stakeholders

The proposed policy to remedy the issue of transferring juveniles to the adult system court would aim at creating awareness. Enlightening the members of criminal justice system, such as prosecutors, policymakers, judges, and court personnel on the findings of recent research studies that have suggested the negative effects of transferring young offenders to adult criminal courts would aid in the effort to alleviate the instances of transference (Hensl & Redding, 2005). The policy mainly weighs in the criminal justice system; however, there is room for social workers to raise awareness too through informing relevant parties of the dangers of transference.

The Intervention Logic Model

Education and Awareness Policy for Members of the Criminal Justice System

Problem Statements

Inputs

Output

Outcomes-Impacts

Juveniles being transferred to adult criminal court

What we invest

Activities

Participants

Short-Term

Medium-Term

Long-Term

-Developmental challenges and behavioral changes.

-Victimization in mainly adult prisons

-Harsh punishment long sentence

 

-Educate judges, prosecutors and other justice personnel

-Researchers

-Educators/Trainers

-Social workers

-Educate the justice personnel on the dangers of transferring juveniles to adult criminal justice systems.

-Have social workers pass on the information to the defense lawyers and offenders

-Have trainers educate judges and prosecutors

-Researchers gather relevant information on the issue and write a comprehensive report.

 

-compile relevant research information

-Spread awareness through informing relevant parties of the impact of criminal courts on juveniles

 

-Researchers study the issue more intensively

-Train and educate the judges and prosecutors

-The incidence of recidivism will have reduced

-Possible to rehabilitate offenders from the juvenile system

The Role of Policy in Advancing Knowledge and Solutions

There exists a lot of information and an assortment of solutions to the problem of transference of young offenders to the criminal court. However, this policy is a good supplement to the existing solutions and knowledge. The policy will ensure that the juveniles receive a fair trial, as the concerned parties will keep in consideration the knowledge of undue punishment of youth in the adult criminal system. It is evidenced by a study that discovered that when the judges of the juvenile court system were informed of the transfer of juveniles into the adult court system as being ineffective and leading to higher instances of recidivism, it decreased the likelihood that they would pass on a transfer (Hensel & Redding, 2005). Increasing awareness of the dangers of transferring young offenders to adult criminal courts will promote the current knowledge, as researchers will be more likely to increase the number of research studies on the issue due to increased application of information. In advancing current solutions, awareness will lead to more knowledgeable judges and prosecutors who are keen players in the matter; their informed decisions will likely be made towards other alternative courses of action, such as rehabilitation, which is one of the most popular solutions put forward.

Role of Intervention Work on Reducing the Use of Incarceration

Implementing awareness policies would take the time to be completely accepted and applied to the juvenile justice system. However, the benefits outweigh the costs when it comes to the long-term consequences of transferring juveniles to adult prisons. With regards to Epperson and Pettus-Davis (2015) work on the concept of Smart Decarceration, the main objectives put forward are the first to reduce jail populations significantly, rectify the present social inequalities among the imprisoned, and, lastly, to capitalize on the wellbeing and safety of the public. Assuming the policy would be effective in reducing cases of transference, the goals of reducing jail populations, as well as that of maximizing public safety would be achieved through decreased rates of recidivism, while the goal of social equality through the trial of most juveniles, at the same institution, to avoid compromising the value of fairness (Redding, 2008). Awareness will improve the chances of judges, passing the alternative methods of sentencing to incarceration, such as community service, rehabilitation and therapy, rather than transferring them to adult courts.

Intervention and the Guiding Concepts of Smart Decarceration

The four guiding concepts, proposed by Epperson and Pettus-Davis (2015), in achieving smart decarceration are: altering the accounts of incarceration and those who have been incarcerated, creating system-wide innovations on the criminal justice system, employing interventions of transdisciplinary nature and practice and making use of strategies based on evidence. The intervention of the criminal justice system would incorporate these principles differently; changing the narrative of incarceration from a justice system, lenient on the criminal court as a solution to juvenile cases to one that is self-sufficient, innovations through rehabilitation programs, informed justice personnel, and child-sensitive law enforcement techniques. Others include transdisciplinary interventions of reformed policies through sensitizing justice personnel on the negative effects of transferring young offenders and evidence driven strategies of consistently spreading the awareness and knowledge on the issue (Redding, 2008).

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The Policy and Social Justice Values

The policy of awareness promotes two main values of social justice and social work at the criminal justice and social work interface, which are fairness and utility. The value of fairness should be impartially applied; a Floridian study on the application of this policy illustrated that the severity of cases transferred to the criminal court and those handled by the juvenile court were of similar and, possibly, fewer consequences (Hensl & Redding, 2005). It demonstrates the lack of fairness that hasty decisions to send children to the criminal court causes. The value of utility is evidenced by the fact that recidivism is common in cases, where juvenile offenders are transferred to adult criminal cases. Application of the policy of awareness would restrict instances of transfer and, thus, alleviate criminal behavior in youths (Hensl & Redding, 2005).

Determining the Effectiveness of the Intervention

The effectiveness of intervention can be determined by assessing the reliance of juvenile courts on criminal courts over a specific period. Florida, as one of the states with the most strict transfer policies, attempted this strategy by increasing awareness and informing the justice system members, as well as the general public on the ineffectiveness of transfers. For the period between 1996 and 2003, the number of transfer cases reduced by two-thirds (Hensl & Redding, 2011). Assessing the level of information, knowledge, and experiences of the criminal justice personnel annually through questionnaires or, if possible, through open-ended interviews is an efficient research design to assess the application of the policy. The effectiveness of the intervention can be determined by the findings from quantitative research studies.

Conclusion

It is essential to formulate effective policies to ensure that the subject matter of transferring juveniles to adult criminal justice systems is handled correctly and successfully to protect and guide the future generation. Information shapes the attitudes of criminal justice personnel, such as judges who will be more likely to be lenient to juveniles, in preference to sending them to adult criminal courts when they are aware of the consequences of this course of action. Concerning intervention, criminal justice is more likely to influence the decisions that affect the offenders and, thus, the burden of intervention should weigh on them, rather than on social workers. The social justice values should be observed and upheld to ensure there is equity in the justice system, as well as the goals of the smart decarceration concept, which promote lower incidences of incarceration.

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