Throughout history, many civilizations have believed that juveniles ( peoples under a determined age) are not completely responsible for their crimes, and they are not morally responsible. The Code Napoleon, from France, supported this. Children, under the age of 16, took only partial responsibility for the crimes they committed. Though it sounds like they got off easy, the punishments for juvenile, and all, offenders were extremely harsh. The death penalty was often executed for some crimes.
The first institution, or "jail", for only juveniles was The House of Refuge, in New York City. It was opened in 1824. By 1850 there were 19 other institutions around the U.S., but they were not only for child offenders, but dependent children.
In 1870 in Massachusetts , and 1882 in New York, juveniles could receive special hearings in court. Special juvenile courts were developed , and so was a whole juvenile judicial system. The first court was in Chicago , developed 1899.
A minor infraction done by a juvenile was seen as a call out for help, the child was indirectly saying they had problems that needed to be solved. So juvenile guidance clinics, aid bureaus , and special school programs were developed were to help children deal with their problems.
Today in the U.S., the media is responsible for greater awareness of juvenile crime than ever before. Crime reports show that in the 1970's juvenile arrests increased in almost every serious crime category, and female juvenile crime more than doubled. In the 1980's 1/5 of all persons arrested were under the age of 182. In the years between 1984 and 1993, the number of juvenile homicides and murders and murder arrests have gone up 168%3. The fastest increase in violent crime was in the age group of kids 10-12 years. SINCE 1993, the arrest rate for juveniles has decreesed by 22.8%.In 1995 alone, the arrest rate declined by 15.2 percent. The ACLU fact sheet says that in the past 2 years almost all 50 states have revised their juvenile court laws, and are now trying mmor juveniles as adults. Unofficial reports suggest that a higher percentage of juveniles are involved in such minor criminal behavior such as vandalism, shoplifting, underage drinking, and using marijuana.4
Much of the current juvenile crime is group and/or gang violence. Gangs are considered violent, delinquent or a "social support". When teenagers feel "different" they will try to form groups or gangs. Though all gangs are not for delinquents, delinquents are more likely to find support in gangs. They have a need for belonging and love, or family that they do not get at home. It gives stability and security. Gangs will often require their members to wear the gang colors.
The other place where juvenile crime is becoming a problem is the school atmosphere. Every day more teens are carrying violent weapons such as guns and knives. In some schools tough security measures, metal detectors (etc.),have had to be taken.
Violent activity is often linked to a persons social environment. It is thought that children will commit crimes because of inadequate parental control. In the Novel The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton, Randy says the soc., a gang of wealthy kids, commit crimes because they want someone to say "no" to them. They have gotten everything they have wanted since they were small kids. No one has ever told them they couldn't have something, so they commit crimes to feel like they have limits and to be rebelous. Every person it seems, needs to have some limits to guide themselves through life. The government also like to believe that lower classed citizens are the ones that responsible for a large deal of the crime in America, they are completely ignoring the fact that Upperclass citizens do a fair share amount of crime too. In the novel, the inference can be made that many of the crimes committed by the greasers are to create a feeling of power for theirselves and a feeling of reverance and admiration from their fellow gang members and rival gang groups. It made the Two-Bit feel tough when he stole the black handled knife, and then it became his signature mark.
There are currently 4 bills on Juvenile crime. They are: HR.3565-a bill to amend title 18, United States Code, with respect to juvenile offenders, and for other purposes. HR.1829- a bill to evaluate the effectiveness of the juvenile justice system and report on certain information .HR.2817A bill to treat juvenile records in the same manner as adult records in certain cases.
HR.3494- a bill to amend the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act of 1974 to identify violent and hard-core juvenile offenders and treat them as adults, and for other purposes.
When a misdemeanor is committed, the juveninle may receive a warning, and they are caught causing problems again they will be tried in court. For more serious crimes such as robbery or use of firearms, the juvenile will be tried in court, and if found guilty, he/she may be put into and instiution and put into juvenile care at some point( after institutionization).Or they may be put into a foster home where there is a stable family environment. If the crime is more serious such as murder, the juvenile may be tried as an adult in an adult judicial system. It has been found that juveniles put into adult prisons and adult judicial systems are much more less likely to commit a crime when they are released from jail.