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The increase in criminal activities in most nations has increased the number of people being sentenced and sent to prison and other correctional facilities. It is therefore common to find out that most penal and correctional facilities around the world are full of felons and criminals who have been sentenced for either wrong or genuine reasons. It is important to note these felons might be adults or teenagers and therefore they are given different sentences; for teenagers, they are tried under the juvenile court system whereas adults are tried under the criminal justice system.

The purpose of this essay paper is to present a brief report discussing the characteristics of the juvenile court system and how they are different than the adult criminal justice system. It will strive to answer the following questions, what is the age jurisdiction over juvenile offenders in most states? What are two kinds of juvenile dispositions? Under this detailed descriptions will be given. What is the standard of proof used in juvenile courts? What are constitutional rights that adult offenders have in their criminal case, but juvenile offenders do not? Can juvenile offenders be sentenced to the death penalty? Describe the circumstances, as they generally apply in most states, where juveniles can be treated as adults. In conclusion, the paper will give a brief recommendation of alternative sentences that felons can be given apart from jail term.

Juvenile Court System Verses Adult Criminal Justice System

According to Hinson, one of the main differences between the juvenile court system and the adult criminal court system is verdicts and sentencing. For juveniles they are required to pledge to either being delinquent or not delinquent whereas for the adult criminal justice system, offenders are required to pledge to being guilty or not guilty (Hinson, 2010). The other difference between this two justice systems is in the sentencing process, for those adults who are found guilty they are sent to the correctional centers (prisons) for a specific number of years as recommended by the court but for the juveniles they are sent to rehabilitation centers to undergo rehabilitation (Hinson, 2010). The trial process between the two offenders is also different; the trial for the juveniles involves both psychological as well as legal factors but for the adults their trial is based on their constitutional rights to stand trial with an option of having a lawyer. Having looked at the differences between the two justice systems it is important to note the juvenile courts handle cases of any person under the age of 18 while adult's court systems handle any person over the age of 18 although this varies from one state to the other depending on its constitution. Apart from the age as criteria used to determine as whether a person should stand trial as an adult or juvenile, there are also some privileges that adult criminal offenders enjoy while the juveniles don't. For instance an adult offender has the right to have a lawyer and a right to be given bail whereas for the juveniles all decisions are decided by the court with the help of the parents and guardians. It is therefore hard for a juvenile to prove his/her innocence.

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According to NSCS, the type of disposition given to juveniles depends on various factors but the two that are mostly taken into consideration are the types of crime committed by the juvenile and the juveniles past criminal record (NSCS 2005). In addition to that it is vital to note that there several dispositions but the two commonly used are;

Home on Probation or Wardship Disposition: This type of disposition is given to those juveniles who have not committed serious offences or petty offenders. This means that the juvenile is allowed to go home, attend school and other chaos but at the same time they are required to attend to counseling programs until the end of their sentence (scounty 2010). 

24 Hour Placement Disposition: This type of disposition is for those juveniles who have committed serious offences and they are a threat to the society, they are placed under a foster home for rehabilitation and treatment whose period depends on the response that the juvenile shows during rehabilitation (scounty 2010).

It has been debated once and again as to whether juvenile offenders can be tried in adult courts as adults; according to USC any person aged between 16 - 17 years who commits a serious crime can be tried as an adult under the following circumstances, if he/she has been accused of murder, if a juvenile has previously been sentenced to a rehabilitation facility and is accused of felony then he/she is tried as adults. The third situation in which a juvenile can be tried as an adult is if the judge decides it is for the safety of the community then the juvenile will be tried as an adult (USC, 2003). Therefore if the juvenile stands trial in adult criminal justice system, they will not be tried as juveniles but as adults and this means that they can be sentenced to death if found guilty under the court of law.

As indicated in the paper, the increase in criminal activities in most nations has increased the number of people being sentenced and sent to prison and other correctional facilities and in the end this has caused over population. It is therefore the responsibility of the local authorities to come up with alternatives to prisons for felons. According to CGA (2000), there are two alternatives / strategies available for felons, the first one is prison expansion model and the other is the community correction model. Apart from that there are various community based model designed for petty crime offenders and they include; Pretrial services, Drug and alcohol programs and Defender-based advocacy programs.

Summation of the Paper

Committing or engaging in any form of crime is against the law of all nations and any person found engaging in crime irrespective of their age then they must face the full wrath of the law. This essay paper has dealt in depth in the juvenile justice system and the adult justice system. The paper has started off by giving the differences between these two systems, it has then mentioned the age in which a person qualifies to be tried as a juvenile as well as an adult. The paper has then discussed two kinds of disposition that are given to juveniles, it has mentioned factors that may make a juvenile be tried as an adult and if a death penalty can be slapped on them. Some of the privileges that adult criminals have over juveniles have also been mentioned in the paper. In conclusion, the paper has given a few recommendations to alternative punishment that can be given to prisoners apart from jail term.

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