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The juvenile court system was fist established in 1899 to ensure that minors aged less than 18 years who violated the law were given a suitable hearing which would enable them reform. The juvenile court is not designed to punish the offenders but rather to place them in a course that would allow reforms. This prevents the child from becoming a criminal or proceeding with a career of crime. In additional to this the Juvenile courts are expected to protect the child from possible stigma and harm that may be experienced in the adult courts. However these noble objectives for establishing the Juvenile court system have not been fully realized.

Today the Juvenile court system is not efficient enough to reduce the ever increasing juvenile crime rates. Court rulings have in the past ruled in favor of the juveniles especially in where the correct court  procedures were not followed. The legal procedures and technicalities are sometimes scrutinized at the expense of the child’s welfare. An example here is In re Gault (1967), where the court ruled that a juvenile must be accorded the same process right as those of the adults ensuring that the juvenile has the right to counsel, timely notification of charges, right to confront witnesses and so on.  Juvenile courts should not waive jurisdiction over minors so that they are tried in adult courts. Currently several states have revamped their laws to ensure tougher sentences for juveniles who have committed violent crimes. In the case of Kent Vs United states 1966, the juvenile was tried as an adult and was found guilty and incarcerated. This ruling was geared towards punishing rather than reforming him. The ruling of the Supreme Court negated the convictions based on the fact that Kent was a minor at the time of the crime.  Subjecting a juvenile to an adult trial does not help in reforming him and is geared towards punishment which contradicts the objectives of the Juvenile Courts.

In the case of Roper v. Simmons the Supreme Court overruled capital punishment on crimes committed by juveniles less than 18 years of age. This decision overturned several rulings that had lowered the capital punishment age to 16 years. This was a good decision because it was consistent with the objectives of the Juvenile court system. The Juvenile system must be revamped to ensure that children and young adults are not only punished but also given a chance to reform through establishment of functional institutions to address their issues and reduce incarceration.

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