The Juvenile criminal justice system

High recidivism rates are an ongoing issue for the criminal justice system, despite the use of different rehabilitation techniques. Among the steps done to lower the number of offenders in the criminal justice system are reduced sentencing for minor offenders, community work, and the imposition of fines. These steps, however, have not been found to be sufficient or efficient in reducing crime rates or avoiding recidivism among released prisoners. Additionally, in an effort to better offenders' chances of rehabilitation and ease the strain on public prisons, state and federal governments have turned to measures like privatizing prisons. Though various rehabilitation measures have been taken including individualized counseling and guidance of offenders especially those in juvenile systems, the re-offending problem continues to persist. Among the factors that have been attributed to this trend is the increase in drug abuse in and outside prisons which makes it challenging for offenders to become fully rehabilitated.

Criminal Justice System (CJS)

The criminal justice system integrates various law enforcement agencies and process that aim to prevent, control and manage crime through the implementation of laws and imposition of punitive measures to individuals violating the law. The United States comprises of various justice systems and is not governed by a singular justice system. These are based on jurisdictional boundaries that limit the extent within which one criminal justice system can operate or function on various offenses. A justice system can be defined on the basis of the type of crimes committed and the location or area to which it is applicable. Criminal justice jurisdictions include State, County, City, District and Federal jurisdictions (Cole & Smith, 2008). Each criminal justice jurisdiction is governed by a different and unique set of regulations and laws, management style, and agencies for enforcing the law. However, the primary justice systems in the United States include the federal and state criminal justice systems. The federal jurisdiction is concerned with issues of law that occur within federal boundaries while state jurisdiction applies to crimes committed within the state.

Purpose of the Justice System

The criminal justice systems serve a number of purposes that include protection of the public from criminal elements in society through a comprehensive rehabilitation and incapacitation processes of offenders. Though protection of the public is ideal, the prevention of crimes is more amenable to the founding precepts of the criminal justice systems. Once offenders are apprehended, the justice system ensures that they are treated in a fair manner and prosecuted for their crimes in a transparent and impartial manner. These roles of the CJS ensure that the precept of upholding law and order are adhered to, and victims of criminal acts are adequately assisted or compensated.

Social Expectations of the Justice System

The community expects that criminal justice system to serve various social functions that include the provision of accessible, dedicated and visible services to the community. The justice system is expected to establish an engagement process that is reliable and effective in addressing issues that affect local communities and provide the needed feedback on critical issues that are raised. The prevalence of crime in communities is attributable to a number of factors that require the application of problem-solving strategies developed in partnership with local agencies and communities (Cole & Smith, 2008). These target criminal and antisocial behavior through strategic enforcement of the rule of law, crime reduction, and prevention initiatives.

Social responsibilities such as integration of community policing approach as part of the criminal justice system ensure that community members not to become mere spectators or victims of crimes, but are actively engaged by various agencies towards the creation and preservation of crime-free communities. The justice system in partnership with local communities develops and implements joint policing efforts that monitor crime, report, and advise the justice system on the implementation of various measures that aim to improve social behavior and reduce criminal activities in the community (Cole & Smith, 2008).

Criminal Justice Policies

The creation and implementation of various policy decisions are critical to the development of both the federal and state governments. Since a significant number of activities are carried out at the state government levels; more policy decisions are subsequently implemented at the state level. Therefore, state policy decisions are more prevalent in the criminal justice system; therefore, state justice systems and courts experience more activities in contrast to the federal government’s justice system (FindLaw, 2013). The presentation of cases the federal government is only made when state courts do not have jurisdiction of dealing with the case or it is beyond the scope of the state’s justice system.

The federal government has a critical role in the development of various criminal justice policies that impact the state; however, these policies are not tailored for any defined states. Criminal justices policies are factors of local issues arising within a state; therefore, distinct states make determinations on the nature, scope, and extent of these policies. As such, the development of policies at the state government level is dependent on the dynamic values that are maintained in a defined state. Meanwhile, the federal government has developed and comprehensive criminal justice policies within which offenders are brought to justice (Ismaili, 2012).

Individual states have constitutional provisions and powers that enable them to make laws that are distinct to the state; therefore, criminal justice policies may vary from one state to the next as a result of the various cultures, values, and beliefs in each state. These differences may impact the definition of a crime, sentencing and the pre-requisites of the judicial process. For instance, the jury is among the significant differences that emerge during the application of criminal justice policy. The federal government requires that a jury must constitute of 12 individuals; however, the various states do not have a pre-defined uniformity in the number of jury members (Samaha, 2006). As such, the composition of juries varies in the respective states according to the nature of the cases and the application of justice policy in the respective states. Additionally, the federal government requires a unanimous jury decision for a criminal conviction or acquittal verdict; while, at the state level, this requirement is not a must and majority votes in the jury verdict is applicable in criminal proceedings.

The definition of criminal behavior, method and extent of punishment are the significant differences between states’ criminal justice policy implementation. However, the states can borrow from the federal framework on which laws and regulations can be successfully implemented in the respective states. For instance, the provisions of were assimilated into the criminal justice systems of 25 states in the 1990’s. However, the constitutionality of these provisions was challenged in the supreme court in 2003 (Samaha, 2006). Furthermore, some states have done away with the option of parole, and convicted offenders are required to complete their prison sentences.

Meanwhile, there are occasions where state and federal governments are in alignment as far as a defined policy is concerned; such as the enactment of “mandatory minimums” that were enacted by both the state and federal governments (Ismaili, 2012). The mandatory minimums limit the extent within which a judge has discretion in sentencing offenders through the stipulation of a minimum sentence for defined offenses. Meanwhile, the issue of capital punishment has been among the most volatile of criminal justice policies. The federal government provides for capital punishment; however, this is not a requirement for states where some choose to abolish it, and some have adopted capital punishment.

Notably, federal courts do not have unlimited full jurisdiction as far as state laws are concerned; however, they have the capacity to intervene in the event of systemic flaws rendering the state’s justice system incapable of prosecuting offenses effectively and successfully. Criminal offenses that involve two or multiple states such as chain robberies in multiple states or interstate kidnappings warrant federal attention and action; hence offenders of such cases are subject to federal criminal justice system (FindLaw, 2013). Additionally, crimes that involve the violation of individual civil rights and instances of conflicts that impair effective prosecution in a local or state environment can be subjected to federal criminal justice processes.

State and federal governments have a critical role in the preservation of the rule of law and public safety through the implementation of an effective criminal justice policy. In light of this, state and federal jurisdictions are clearly defined to prevent ambiguity and clashing priorities in the implementation of criminal justice policy. This enables states to create and enact laws that are applicable within their jurisdictions without undue intervention from the federal government. The federal government is primarily responsible for federal crimes, leaving other crimes to the discretion of state criminal justice systems (FindLaw, 2013).

As such, similarities between the state and federal government are evident in the criminal justice framework including laws, regulations and rules; justice system policies and constitutional mandates of the justice system. Meanwhile, differences emerge in state and federal law provisions on the determination of policies, management of their respective legal systems and management of their resources with the aim of preserving the integrity of the criminal justice policy and systems. While both the state and federal governments have different definitions in their respective implementation of criminal justice policy; they have unity of purpose. Consequently, they endeavor to uphold their constitutional mandate through the enactment of laws and development of justice systems aimed at preserving public safety.

Justice System Rehabilitation Strategies

The reforms in law enforcement and justice systems including prisons have led to significant changes that have seen a reduction in crime. The justice system has increased capacity to identify and deter crimes while they are still in the planning stages, therefore, reducing the incidence of crimes. The significant differences observed in crime can be attributed to aggressive law enforcement policies and comprehensive frameworks for rehabilitating offenders.

The integration of punishment in the justice system has been effective to some extent; however, it is highly unreliable since its impact on both adult and juvenile offenders is unpredictable. Furthermore, when offenders are released, they do not have a moral support system that encourages them to reform (Conover, 2001). Meanwhile, rehabilitation is effective since it addresses the underlying issues while providing moral support systems that ensure that released offenders do not re-offend. In light of this, any argument against the rehabilitation of offenders has no merit since it is through rehabilitation programs that the crime rates have reduced significantly.

In addition, a rehabilitated offender is more likely to remain reformed than a punished offender. Prisons that use punitive methods such as infliction of pain through torturous activities and solitary confinement among others often experience lower rehabilitation rates. In some cases, prison staff uses excessive violence as a punishment strategy for prisoners (Boston, 2006).However, there are more lessons and insights to be learned with respect to the lives that inmates lead especially their psychological and emotional dynamics that influence their behavior in prison and after they have been released to the world. Furthermore, the justice system should focus on the perceived impacts of prisons on the community and its effectiveness in mitigating the incidence of crime in society.

The primary mandate of the justice system is to ensure that prisoners are effectively rehabilitated (Weiss & MacKenzie, 2010). The effectiveness of the rehabilitation process is considerably dependent on the strategic methods that prison programs are designed and implemented. The prevalence of resource deficiencies often makes it difficult for prison establishments to run rehabilitation programs that address the underlying causes of criminal behavior. The prison system often hosts offenders who have committed various crimes ranging from misdemeanors to capital offenses. Therefore, the diverse prison population may not require the same rehabilitation processes, and the justice system must take these facts into consideration.

The continued prevalence of crime can be an outcome of various issues ranging from poverty, peer pressure, mental illness, psychosis or innate predisposition towards criminal behavior. It has been noted that a significant percent of the prison population is attributable to crimes that are motivated by poverty, social and psychological issues. Therefore, the development of a rehabilitation strategy should take into consideration the nature, circumstance, and factors that led to the crime that was committed. Though the examination of these factors is necessary towards the administration of effective and reliable rehabilitation interventions, most prisons do not have the needed resources to meet the basic functions (Weiss & MacKenzie, 2010). The federal and state governments recognize the high demand for resource along to various correctional facilities; however, as a result of budgetary constraints, private prisons have been allowed to function and alleviate the burden of government-run prisons. However, it does not mean that private prisons are more effective in rehabilitating prisoners when compared to government-run prisons. Evidently, private prisons also experience similar resource-based challenges for the rehabilitation of prisoners.

The prison management has increasingly devised methods of rehabilitating prisoners; however, such methods have been found to be increasingly cruel and violent (New York Civil Liberties Union, 2016). These methods include solitary confinement and deprivation of key amenities. The prison staff often use such methods to preserve control and as an attempt to change behavior among prisoners. Conventional rehabilitation processes require the involvement of professionals and experts in criminology and psychology. However, prisons do not have adequate resources to employ such resources as needed.

The use of force or solitary confinement often results in negative rehabilitative outcomes. Being confined in small and completely sealed prison cells effectively deprives the inmates of any social contact or opportunity to access the various rehabilitation programs that may be available in prison (New York Civil Liberties Union, 2016). These methods of punishing or exercising control over prisoners that are deemed as disobedient often escalate the underlying factors that contribute to criminal behavior. It may be perceived that solitary confinement is effective; however, the reality is that it causes more damage to the rehabilitation process. In addition, it is an inhumane and unjust method of punishing prisoners.

Challenges of Rehabilitation

Among the challenges of rehabilitation include the fact that drug rehabilitation is often effective if there are follow-up mechanisms and support systems outside prison. However, considering the shortage of resources and inadequate funding for public prisons, such an endeavor may not be possible. In addition, rehabilitation inside prison is only effective if once a prisoner is released, the circumstances that led to offending are no longer in existence. It is highly likely that an inmate offended for various reasons including lack of job, influence by peers or as a means to deal with issues in their personal lives (NIDA, 2012). If such issues persist even after the inmate has been released and rehabilitated, it is likely that the immediate environment will influence their behavior and may revert to crime all over again (Gideon, 2010).

Offenders are often motivated to commit crime by various factors including poverty, joblessness and negative influence by peers. Though society demands retribution for social wrongs, it is not beneficial to arrest, incarcerate and eventually release an offender who will then commit the crime once more. However, it is necessary for society to consider the long-term outcomes of the decisions that are taken. Prevention of crime before it occurs through addressing issues that affect the target population can have a significant impact in benefiting the society than imprisonment.

Recommendations and Conclusion

A comprehensive reform strategy should be implemented that prohibits the use of force and solitary confinement as a method of punishing or rehabilitating prisoners. Reform policies must place emphasis on addressing the underlying causes of criminal behavior and develop programs that ensure that such issues are addressed accordingly. However, these can only be achieved through resource allocation and deployment of professionals capable of resolving the problem. The high incidents of crimes in communities are often influenced by poverty, unemployment and lack of adequate education. These issues can be addressed through the deployment of equitable resources among diverse communities, involving young people in community-based programs and community policing strategies. The most effective deterrence method is to ensure that people are not given an opportunity to contemplate committing crime. Meanwhile, prisons should ensure that their rehabilitation programs integrate psychosocial assessments and after release follow-up programs that facilitate smooth re-entry and transition into the community.


Boston, J. (2006). Excessive force in the New York City Jails: Litigation and its lessons. Journal of Law & Policy 22(13), 155-173.

Cole, G., & Smith, C. (2008). Criminal justice in America. (5th ed.). Belmont, Calif: Wadsworth Pub. Co.

Conover, T. (2001). Newjack: Guarding Sing Sing. New York, NY: Random House.

FindLaw. (2013). Federal vs. State courts – key differences. Retrieved from

Gideon, L. (2010). Substance Abusing Inmates Experiences of Recovering Drug Addicts on their Way Back Home. Dordrecht: Springer.

Ismaili, K. (2012). U.S. Criminal justice policy: A contemporary reader. Sudbury, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.

National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). (2012). Principles of drug abuse treatment for criminal justice populations a research-based guide (Rev. 2012.. ed., NIH publication; no. 11-5316). Bethesda, Md.]: National Institutes of Health, U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services.

New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU). (2016). Boxed In. NEW York, NY:

Samaha, J. (2006). Criminal Justice. Belmont, CA: Thomson Learning.

Weiss, D. B. & MacKenzie, D. L. (2010) A Global Perspective on Incarceration: How an International Focus Can Help the United States Reconsider Its Incarceration Rates, Victims & Offenders 5(3), 268-282.

Deadline is approaching?

Wait no more. Let us write you an essay from scratch

Receive Paper In 3 Hours
Calculate the Price
275 words
First order 15%
Total Price:
$38.07 $38.07
Calculating ellipsis
Hire an expert
This discount is valid only for orders of new customer and with the total more than 25$
This sample could have been used by your fellow student... Get your own unique essay on any topic and submit it by the deadline.

Find Out the Cost of Your Paper

Get Price