While juvenile justice by name is child-oriented, this
does not mean that the care of child suspects and juvenile delinquents should
come at the expense of the rest of the State. Thus, a Department of Juvenile Justice is bound to
place the safety of the public on a par with the welfare of the child and
include the protection of both populations as points of paramount importance in
their official missions. Besides, just within the spectrum of juvenile justice,
enforcement of the laws should obviously not come at the expense of the child.
State departments are committed to delinquency prevention as well as
delinquency detention and want to see children grow into self-sufficient adults.
That said, a State Department of Juvenile Justice is certainly in
charge of administering the law and any functions subsequent to adjudication.
In all, juvenile justice departments are responsible for processing complaints
against offenders from the public, taking children into temporary custody in
anticipation of court proceedings, overseeing first appearances (notification of charges), adjudication and disposition
hearings (deciding what to do with the guilty child), and committing to
a plan of action for the child moving forward, such as youth detention,
probation, or supervised residence.
much of family law, contract law applies differently from place to place. As such, without
going into discussions of specific State statutes, we can only go as far as
general trends on the matter. Usually, though adults and children may very well
come to terms on a written contract and both parties may uphold their end of
the bargain, a child may just as well prove non-compliant with most supposedly
binding agreements. This is related to the concept inherent in many State
family laws of capacity
Primarily, the above consideration of family law has to
deal with concerns in the wake of agreements between individuals. As for
contracts between minors and public entities/private companies, in some
instances the latter will not let a juvenile move forward without additional
consent from a child’s guardian. Meanwhile, some manifestations of
family law and contract law are not as readily subject to the child’s
discretion or revocation.
In some specific circumstances, such as approval of a
loan for a minor student starting college, the child’s parent will likely have
to co-sign on the written contract between creditor and those receiving the
funds and will be in part responsible for any financial consequences should the
terms of the agreement not be upheld. Similar provisions might be in order for
children who are paid entertainers, with deals being struck between an
agency/other company and his or her immediate family on the minor’s behalf. Laws
dictate that parents may be culpable should their children not perform as
In the United States, while an individual is usually a
minor up until the age of 18, he or she will not be able to buy alcoholic
substances until the age of 21. This was not always the case, though. It was
not until the National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984 that American State officials were required to enforce laws concerning
the minimum age of purchase being 21, as opposed to 18, 19 or any other ages
that would allow minor drinkers to pay for their own drinks.
Proponents of this Act and preservation of the 21-years-of-age minimum going
forward highlight the notion that this policy saves lives by discouraging drunk
driving in older teens/younger adults. On the other hand, those people arguing
for the rights of these minors note the incongruence of allowing young people
to die by lethal injection in prison at the age of 18 or younger but not to be
able to “have a drink” until 21. For some members of this
transitional 18-21 age group, minimum drinking age requirements make them feel
like second-class citizens.
Some organizations, such as the National Criminal Justice Reference Service (NCJRS)
devoted to providing juvenile justice
information and services to the public, will do so in a way that tries to compile as much
information as possible on all topics within the sphere of the welfare of children.
Of course, at least with the NCJRS, it helps that it is a Government-sponsored program.
the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice
(CJCJ), arguably limited in its focus and
logistically constrained by the need for charitable donations, nonetheless can
devote itself to a cause that its members truly believe in, and furthermore, is
active on behalf of the community in seeing that its goals are met. Claiming no
political or religious affiliation, the CJCJ is committed to innovative
approaches to protecting the best interests of children implicated in matters
of juvenile law and saving them from delinquency.
Some notes about the Center on Juvenile and Criminal
The Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice directs its
energies first and foremost at those youths most at risk of delinquency. With
the idea that repeat encounters with the juvenile justice system lead to
increased likelihood of arrests in adulthood, the CJCJ works with multiple
offenders in an attempt to provide them with the care and personal attention they
might otherwise not receive.
Depending on the jurisdiction, the exact age might vary,
but most of the time a minor is considered to be someone who is under the age
of 18, and according to the law, cannot be held legally and fully responsible
for his or her actions. Understandably, minors may be ineligible for using
certain services and buying certain products for which it is assumed sound
adult judgment is required. For instance, although statutes may vary, generally the age of 18 is the
threshold for the legal ability to purchase cigarettes/tobacco. Meanwhile, for
other non-narcotic drug-oriented products, like alcoholic beverages, the minimum age to buy is 21.
While individual states may decide what age someone
becomes a legal adult, the Federal Government has also had its say on the subject of minors
and juvenile delinquency. In the 1960s and 1970s, the United States was
especially active in legislating to address problems with crimes committed by
The Juvenile Delinquency Prevention and Control Act of
1968 and the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act of 1974 worked in
concert not only to implement programs at the community level to take children
out of situations that lent themselves to underage criminality, but also to
ensure funds were delivered to states that kept minor convicts away from their
older counterparts in detention. It was the Federal Juvenile Delinquency Act
that specifically addressed the definition of juvenile delinquency, detailing
that minors under the age of 18 guilty of a criminal offense were to be