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Juvenile Justice System Structure & Process

As we have seen, Jenson points out that the recent trend that favors punitive practices is part of a larger historical cycle that alternates between punitive and rehabilitative approaches to juvenile crime: “Several theorists have assessed philosophical and institutional developments in juvenile justice policy. Bernard contended that cycles consisting of a largely punitive phase of juvenile justice policy, followed by a predominantly rehabilitative phase, have been repeated three times since 1820” (Jenson 325). It appears that we are going down the historical Vico road so-to-speak in regards to the juvenile justice system in the United States, that is, history is repeating itself. It is a vicious cycle in which increased crime rates are met with cries for increased punishment. The response to the horrifying effects of increased punishment is the call for reform and the move toward rehabilitative practices. We must raise the question as to whether there is any way out of this vicious cycle. Seeing that the trends of the juvenile justice system are lead by the politicians’ response to the irrational whims of a largely uneducated American public, the hope of breaking out of the cycle discussed by Jenson becomes increasingly difficult to support.

We have noted the contingency between juvenile justice policy and public opinion. We have discussed the recurring cycle of reform/punishment. It is now our task to examine the effects of policy on juvenile crime. Some theorists believe that there is no causal relationship between public policy and juvenile crime rates, a position that is supported by the relatively stable rates of juvenile crime (Jenson 328). However, other theorists believe that there is a causal link between public policy and juvenile crime. From the viewpoint of these theorists, juvenile crime rates fluctuate “depending on the effectiveness of prevailing juvenile justice policy in preventing and contro...

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Juvenile Justice System Structure & Process. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 21:35, September 20, 2017, from
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