As citizens of the United States, we are taught that the criminal justice system was created to ensure justice for crimes committed and for the protection of our communities. Everyone is also taught that the criminal justice system was created to ensure rights of both offender and victim and that punishments are to be equal and fair. As Americans we are not educated on the juvenile justice system, or how juvenile delinquents are processed. The current criminal justice system that is used in the United States allows juvenile offenders to be convicted, tried and sentenced as adults for certain crimes. The laws need to be reevaluated, and changed, to ensure that the primary focus regarding juveniles is rehabilitation rather than incarceration.
The first juvenile courts were established in 1899, and the idea behind creating the juvenile court was to substitute treat and care for punishment of delinquent youths (Juvenile Law). The main concerns for the new juvenile courts involved the fact that children are not "small adults" and needed to be handled differently. There is a need for specially trained legal and correctional professionals to work with the minor children. Placing children into adult prisons and jails makes them become more antisocial and can promote future criminal activities (Juvenile Law). The new courts that were created for the juvenile offenders were based on the idea that rehabilitation could help the troubled youths. Over time these ideas of the juvenile justice system were replaced with a more punitive approach, and this is what began placing juvenile offenders in adult courts for certain crimes.
In the United States, the legal recognized age is eighteen (Juvenile Law). When a person reaches the age of eighteen, they can then vote, marry, join the armed forces, and legally make decision for themselves. In many aspects of life, a youth that is under the age of eighteen is still considered to be a child, and society recognizes their inability to make adult decisions.