Juvenile Reforms

In the 19th century in United States, many children who had been abandoned and who ran away from home to stay in streets turned out to be wild and unmanageable to the government. Many of them lived along the streets and stole or rob others their goods without mercy. As a result of their increasing number and the rise of petty young offenders aged 14-18 years, the United States government decided to come up with a special court called the juvenile court to deal with children cases and the rising crime. They were referred by many as the street Arabs as most of their family members or parents were either dead or feared responsibility. However, majority of the young street thugs had lost interest in staying with their parents and decided to go to the streets. With the increasing crime rate and the population increase in most cities especially in New York City and California, illegal businesses such as drug dealing and prostitution were on the rise. Due to the rise in illegal trades and habits, certain movements came in place to fight the vice and to fight for the childrens rights (Roberts, 2004).

What led to Juvenile Reforms
Juvenile reforms started being agitated by reformers who claimed that the kind of punishment given to the offenders was not in line with the childrens rights or too heavy for them to bear. The reformers also argued that some petty crimes were attached to serious consequences such as pick pocketing that was punishable by death and required amendments. Poor legal provisions in the juvenile courts led to formation of social movement to oppose the legal terms used in the courts.

It is worth noting that major changes on poor legislation, work place policies and community policing took place almost the same period. The reform agenda on the juvenile court system and legislation was not only dependant on the government alone but even the magistrates and commissions, together with the parliamentary committees that were included in the reform committee. The marine society of 1756 and the philanthropic society of 1762 were private initiatives set by the government do deal with reform agenda in juvenile courts.

Pieces of legislationJuvenile
Even though reforms and legislation varies from one state to another, many reform agenda and new ways of punishing offenders have been modified to accommodate the challenges in crime especially for the young ones. The perception that the young offenders are more merciless, ruthless and dangerous has led to rectification of the juvenile codes of punishment and the focus is turning to rehabilitation programs to change the behavior of the young offenders who are seen as poorly oriented children.
The policy that has been implemented is the rehabilitation program, to ensure that the offenders learn more about the legal provisions on crime and to train them on income generating activities that can enable them earn a living hence reducing crime and improving the countrys economic growth (Zimring, 2005).

Contributions of the changes in the modern Juveniles
The changes in legislation and the social movements have contributed greatly in the modern day juvenile. With the changes in laws governing the juvenile courts, many children below the age of 18 years have embarked on income generating activities as compared to the 19th century when most of the young people were involved in criminal activities. Harsh punishments on the offenders such as the capital charges that were used during the 19th century by the juvenile courts are no longer in use and proper ways of punishing the offenders have been put in place to correct the behavior of the young offenders for instance, rehabilitation programs to promote good moral standards in the society (Feld, 1999).

Movements on childrens right and reforms can be said to be based on two principles humanitarianism and progressive challenges on handling different types of criminals. The movements can clearly translate to the latest reforms in the juvenile courts and legal provisions. However, it is not easy to isolate crime and age, petty crimes are common among the youths or children as compared to the adults hence punishment given to the children must be rational to the age. With such challenges, several reforms have been put in place to deal with the challenges. Finally, rehabilitation has led to a decrease in crime rates among the children and improvement on moral standards.


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