Landmark cases were instrumental in reforming juvenile courts and securing rights for minor offenders. For example, the decision made in Kent v. United States (1966) saw waiver hearings become a crucial stage before the transfer of juveniles to the criminal court jurisdiction. In re Gault (1967), the Supreme Court recognized juveniles’ right to counsel, right to a notice of charges, right to face witnesses, and the right against self-incrimination. Further, In re Winship (1970), the Supreme Court established the standard of proof as a crucial factor in establishing the guilt of the accused. Moreover, Mckeiver v. Pennsylvania (1971) established the juveniles’ right to a jury trial. Additionally, through Breed v. Jones and Schall v. Martin (1984), juveniles were provided with the right to double jeopardy and right to preventive detention.
Juveniles have the freedom to waive some of their privileges such as the right to counsel. However, the nine-point standard is applied by judges as a means of determining whether a juvenile can understand and waive one or more of her legal rights. Juveniles who meet the nine-point standard requirements retain the rights of waving some of their constitutional rights. The Fourth Amendment protects juveniles against illogical searches and seizures, as well as violation of privacy. It states that juveniles can only be subject to search and seizures if there is sensible suspicion. As per the legislation, there must be sufficient suspicion to undertake a search on a juvenile before infringing on his privacy.
Before 2005, in all the death penalty cases, the Supreme Court used death sentences as a punishment for juveniles aged between 16 and 17. In all the cases that the Supreme Court imposed the death penalty, the juveniles had been found guilty of committing murder. In Eddings v. Oklahoma (1982), Thompson v. Oklahoma (1988), Stanford v. Kentucky, and Wilkins v. Missouri, all the offenders had been convicted of murder (Merlo & Champion 110). Nevertheless, the Roper v. Simmons (2005) ruling marked the end of the death penalty for juveniles below the age of 18. In the Roper case, the Supreme Court held that the death penalty was harsh and uncommon and subsequently handed the defendant a life sentence without parole. In Miller v. Alabama (2012), the Supreme Court found life imprisonment without parole to be a violation of the defendant’s Eighth Amendment and recommended the consideration of parole in cases involving juveniles.
A fifteen-year-old boy was arrested for firing into a crowd in Kentucky school, leaving two minors dead and sixteen people severely wounded (Merlo & Champion 124). In my opinion, the boy should be put in an institution where he can obtain adequate treatment. He should also be given a prison sentence of a minimum of 20 years with the possibility of parole. This juvenile’s action might have been as a result of severe psychopathology and mental and developmental issues.
One issue related to juveniles and police interaction is discrimination against individuals based on race and ethnicity. Juveniles from minority groups tend to be the most stopped, arrested, and detained. Another issue is the tendency of the police to judge and harass juveniles based on stereotypical characteristics such as dress code, demeanor, and appearance. Excessive use of force towards juveniles is another issue that pertains to the interaction and contact of police and juveniles.
The intake process involves the police officers completing an arrest report. In this procedure, the minor offender’s details such as name, parents, and alleged offenses are noted. The juveniles are then released to their parents’ custody and referred to intake officers who conduct further processing. The role of the intake officers is to represent the juveniles in the court and make rehabilitation or punishment suggestions.
Merlo, Benekos, & Champion, Dean J. (2016). The Juvenile Justice System: Delinquency, Processing, and the Law. (8th Edition). Pearson/ Prentice Hall.
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