In the criminal justice system, some of the most fragile and difficult cases are found in the juvenile court. This is due to the fact that young children below 18 must be dealt in such a way as to help guide them through adulthood without trouble. Unfortunately, most juveniles who are given lenient sentences and sent to correctional institutions end up back in jail later in life. Considering the goals of the juvenile court system, this is not acceptable and must be addressed immediately. Through much rigorous research and the valuable help of a prosecutor who works in the Los Angeles district attorney’s office, I have discerned major factors that have hampered the effectiveness of the rehabilitation of the juveniles.
The major issues that hamper the full potential of the juvenile court system is the lack of multiple court officers, ethical reasons, and not being able to satisfy the needs of the underaged criminals. The severe understaffing of the district attorneys worldwide, limits the ability to give further attention to thousands of juveniles. Add to that the debate over where juveniles in certain crimes should be given leniency or put to trial as an adult, and we see many problems and never-ending questions arise. Even though this problem should be resolved as fast as possible; because it is a morals and ethics question it will most likely endure. Moving on to the topic of rehabilitation; this is essentially the whole point of the juvenile court, as they are trying to give these juveniles a second chance to the road for redemption. Unfortunately, the current system does not do a good job in rehabilitating these juveniles, as they are not capable of addressing the problems that the juveniles may have experienced. Examples such as abusive parents, drug abuse, poverty, and peer pressure may well force these specific children to take the wrong choice in the path of life. However, the correctional institutions provide only the most general rehabilitation that do not pinpoint or correct the specific problems that these children may not be so willing to share. Since the correctional officers and supporters who try their best for these juveniles do not know these children’s circumstances, they cannot properly discern the driving factor for that particular youth. As said, the system is for the general public, it does not address individuals. The sad part is juveniles are specific individuals with specific problems that must be dealt with in a timely manner. If the problem is not solved in the right chronological, the juvenile may come back to trial in the future as an adult. Now that is depressing, as adults are not given a second chance, meaning that now young adults must spend the majority of their life in prison depending on the scale of their crime.
Los Angeles prosecutor Esther Han, who has worked multiple times on juvenile cases, stated that one of the core reasons why juveniles do not rehabilitate often is due to the fact that the correctional institute does not specifically help the juvenile, such as his traumas or fears that may have influenced such actions. She also addresses the problem that the court does not actively try to help the juvenile, rather just trying to solve the case under a fair trial and send the juvenile to a correctional institute. There was also an undermining flaw concerning the district attorney, as understaffing was a big problem. Esther immediately agreed upon the notion that the lack of court officers was a major setback in delivering justice. It was quite fortunate to hear that the few workers in the criminal justice system were truly passionate about their job. Out of the numerous questions that I have asked, she showed much passion for her job. I found this to be extremely admirable, considering that the job is not that popular and undermanned. Overall from the research I had done beforehand and the added opinion from an actual prosecutor, I have concluded that the juvenile court is not fully capable of truly changing a juvenile’s future. Although there have been cases where a juvenile has really learned his lesson and became a full-fledged member of society, it is not due to the effectiveness of the system, but through the experiences that the particular juvenile had.
Because I could not personally think of any solution that could mitigate the problem or ease the situation, I will continue to seek opportunities in this area to further investigate and expand upon this topic.