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The Criminology of the Juvenile Mind

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The Criminology of the Juvenile Mind

Criminology is defined as the scientific study of the nature, extent, cause and control of criminal behavior. Due to the non-ending threat of crime, violence and even terror threats, criminology has gained in popularity as an academic field of study. Criminology is the scientific approach to studying criminal behavior. {Larry Siegel, Criminology Theories, patterns & Typologies, 2004.}

In studying criminal behavior scientist have categorized the period between childhood and adulthood as adolescents. The age is generally from 12 to 18 years of age. The vast majority of adolescents who suffer from poverty, neglect and abuse, do not commit crimes. They struggle in their chaotic environment with little or no support but public concern focuses on the juveniles, which break the law and enter the 'system.' For years the manner in which juveniles or adolescents have been cared for or disciplined has shifted back and forth between treatment and punishment. Presently, in the United States, the shift has moved toward more public involvement with the various police forces. Police departments are providing more enforcement within the schools to reduce criminal activity and slow the flow of drug trafficking. The police officers are known as Juvenile Officers. A Juvenile Office is a position for which some police departments provide specialized training so the police officers can work effectively with juveniles. {Clemens Bartollas, Juvenile Delinquency, 2003, Glossary.}

Crime is any violation of law, either divine or human; an omission of a duty commanded, or the commission of an act forbidden by law. Gross violation of human law, in distinction from a misdemeanor or trespass, or other slight offense. Hence, also, any aggravated offense against morality or the public welfare any outrage or great wrong. Any great wickedness or sin; iniquity. {Copyright 2004}

When a juvenile or adolescent commits a crime that person is generally treated as a child unless the crime is that of a felony, aggravated nature or other factors are involved. Juveniles are sent through a separate court system, which originated in Cook County Illinois in 1899 when legislature passed the Juvenile Court Act. Based on the Parens Patriae, where the courts take over for the parents, the Juvenile Court Act was considered the vehicle of growth in its time. With the involvement of the state or states the courts could then justify the use of medical and psychological exams. With the addition of JCA juveniles were then determined to have the right to due process, which resulted from re Gault in 1967.

With presidents like that of re Gault being put into place, there are also many alternatives to jail, and institutionalizing teenage offenders. Some alternates include dismissal, restitution, psychiatric therapy and community based residential programs.

Once a juvenile offender enters the system and sentencing has been processed, time served, the option of probation or parole can exist. Probation permits the juvenile offenders to remain in the community under the supervision of a probation officer, subject to certain conditions imposed by the court. {Clemens Bartollas, Juvenile Delinquency, 2003, Glossary.} Parole and probation where developed in the 19th century, and the "father of probation" is John Agustus.

The rights and responsibilities of juveniles and there parents continue to evolve as time moves into the 21st century, however, it is still unknown why and how the criminal mind truly works across the board. With progress and legal assistance the 'system' may have fewer juvenile clients, and less repeat offenders.



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