Specialisation: California

A Comparative Analysis of the Juvenile Justice System in California Versus North Carolina


Juvenile justice is progressively becoming vital in the United States since society is struggling to give advice and guidance to youths who break the law. Minor can sometimes do unlawful activities or criminal acts that compel law enforcement bodies to apprehend them and take them to court. Most young offenders are driven into such crimes by peer pressure. The urge to be welcomed or accepted by peers may result in a child doing unlawful acts that they would have instead not done under well-organized guidance. This is, therefore, the reason why juvenile justice has tremendously increased in American society. When minors are taken to court, making them understand their unlawful acts is crucial. The available criminal justice system must provide them with all the relevant information regarding their criminal acts. They must also know that every decision or action has an equal-measure consequence. The decision should, however, be made in a way that does not destroy their future lives. Different regions in the United States have different rates of juvenile criminal activities. It varies from different states and regions. This essay looks at a critical comparison between the juvenile justice system in California versus North Carolina. It gives a comprehensive literature review of the juvenile justice system and a theoretical framework describing the relationship between the research and other findings.

Literature Review


Rehabilitation involves restoring a person’s reputation and character, whether it is juvenile delinquents, youths, or adults. Rehabilitation aims to make offenders acceptable or welcomed in society and transform them into valuable and productive community members (Forsberg et al., 2020). Rehabilitation has been a concept that has been in existence for a long time and has been practiced in many criminal justice systems in many nations.

Rehabilitation programs for prisoners are meant to prevent criminal offenders, such as juveniles, from participating in criminal activities in the future. More vibrant criminal rehabilitation programs are critical to the prisoners, as well as to society. Prisoners go through counseling sessions in which they are made to understand the advantages of shunning away from criminal activities and living free life (Shaw, 2019).

The criminals, which range from different ages such as juveniles, youths, and adults, are also equipped with the necessary skills. They acquire the skills through training that ensure they become productive members of society. However, there are many arguments regarding applying criminal rehabilitation as corrective measures since most people perceive that most criminals do not change but rather later engage in criminal activities after they are released from the rehab center. Nonetheless, rehabilitation is considered one of the best correctional strategies compared to social protection, deterrence, and retribution. It is also advisable for correctional facilities to choose rehabilitation as the first correctional measure before other measures.

As a strategy to improve rehabilitation, programs geared towards rehabilitation should be structured to emphasize tackling the root cause of criminal activities. Such programs should enable criminal offenders to learn from committed mistakes and make well-informed decisions to change from crime and live moral and everyday lives (Allpoetry, n.d).

Methods used in Criminal Rehabilitation

Parole involves releasing of criminal offenders before the end of their imprisonment terms. In most cases, parole is usually supplemented with close supervision. The prisoners usually commit several promises to ensure conditions set by the parole board, including a commitment not to break the laws again. Parole is usually associated with several benefits, such as being cost-effective and the fact that the parole individual can participate in community development (Finholt et al., 2020). Moreover, parole is a type of criminal rehabilitation that offers guidance in collaboration with supervision as the offenders are allowed to join members of society.

Community correctional services involve various supervisory services undertaken to rehabilitate non-violent criminals. The aim of community corrections involves the reintegration of criminal offenders into society. In some cases, community correctional involves some judicial conditions and procedures that unveil some options for confinement, such as parole, diversion, and probation programs (Butts et al., 2018). Community corrections play a fundamental role in minimizing the prison population, making prison management more efficient and straightforward.

There are various ways in which community corrections impact the societies in which the rehabilitation practice is done. Community corrections enable easy and fast absorption of certain criminal offenders into the community. This helps to avoid any conflict that may arise when they fail to be accepted back in society. Corrections also help minimize societal crimes as people live harmoniously with each other because the law takes charge.

In terms of wellness rehabilitation, mental and physical wellness results in purpose and clarity for criminal offenders as they undergo their sentencing. Depending on various rehabilitation services offered in different facilities, prisoners could participate in programs such as tai chi, meditation, and yoga. When the prisoners practice such physical and mental exercises, they become rehabilitated from problems such as anger and stress. Wellness rehabilitation may sometimes be challenging to maintain as the prisoners go through sentencing (Munikwa, 2020). However, some prisons offer such programs to enable offenders to practice skills that significantly impact their lives.

Issues on Rehabilitation

One issue against rehabilitation as a way of instilling correction in juveniles and adults is that it lacks empirical knowledge of the root causes of criminal activities. The criticism is, however, invalid since it is not essential to know and understand the cause of events to impact the chances of its redoing. Rehabilitation strategies and techniques also seem to lack proof that they can minimize recidivism. Although this view may be accurate, it does not permit neglecting attempts to identify the best approaches with certain types of lawbreakers. The third argument about rehabilitation is that emphasizing rehabilitation for criminal offenders leads to sentencing inconsistency as sentencing is becoming focused on the different durations required for rehabilitation services. Another issue regards repair versus mentally ill offenders. It argues that in the rehabilitation system, it is assumed that offenders are mentally ill. This, however, contradicts the reality that most offenders are usually regular. The issue is based on the inconsistent perception that the target for rehabilitation is mental illness. A final point recognizes that rehabilitative dogma unavoidably lowers tailoring sentencing to the offense’s seriousness (Dent et al., 2020).

Californian Juvenile Justice System

The juvenile justice system in California is an interconnected network of state and county programs and agencies. California juvenile justice system focuses on education, rehabilitation, treatment, and guidance to offenders instead of punishment (Shapiro, 2019). California has tremendously evolved from a state with the costliest and most draconian juvenile justice system. It has become modest regarding reforms. The state still ensures a proper justice system for juveniles (Kan et al., 2020). With the guidance of proper leadership and progressive legislature, California has welcomed an astounding number of laws to correct the dysfunctional, flawed, punitive justice system.

In 2014, the California legislature, led by the governor, passed and signed bills for the authentic sealing of juvenile registers after completing their probation. The legislation has incarcerated juveniles for truancy and doing away with solitary imprisonment. This has significantly limited the placement of young people in private facilities (Cauffman et al., 2018). The various bills passed regarding the juvenile justice system provide a second opportunity for offenders below 18 years. The bill permits youths to demand a new sentencing hearing. It banned involuntary sentencing of juveniles to life imprisonment.

2013 saw a large group of young advocates from Californian states forming a unified coalition to bring massive transformation to the juvenile justice system. Their initial goal was to end the act of placing adults in the adult system. The notable Alliance for Youth and Community Justice drastically reduced the cases of youth incarceration. The youth alliance was critical since it eradicated direct file practices, which offered prosecutors the role of charging youths just like adults (Cohen, 2019). The Californian legislative successes progressively spur juvenile justice leadership reforms and a tremendous reduction in juvenile incarceration levels. As a result of unswerving advocacy efforts in the past twenty years, there have been media exposure, lawsuits, and an array of legislation that has transformed and reduced cases of juvenile incarcerations.

North Carolina Juvenile Justice System

In North Carolina, juvenile justice courts are mandated to have jurisdictions between the ages of 5 and 17. The age group is alleged to be undisciplined or delinquent age bracket. Delinquent people are identified if they participate in criminal activities or infractions done by adults. An undisciplined juvenile is a person who commits age-related crimes like running away from home or truancy (Smokowski et al., 2018). Juvenile cases in North Carolina begin when a complainant files a case against a child or a teenager. Some people who can file a case against a juvenile are law enforcement, private individuals, and school personnel—a juvenile counselor after investigating the accusations stated in the complaint. The counselor terminates the case if there is no stated case by closing the file.

A juvenile may stay out of court if a case is diverted. This may only happen if the young person remains stuck to the diversion plan. If the counselor transfers the case to the court, it is the responsibility of a court judge to determine the proof of the allegations. At this level, the juvenile may admit to committing the offense or be arbitrated delinquent, such as in criminal convictions. After that, the judge issues a verdict or disposition stipulating the terms the juvenile should conform to.

While in court, a North Carolina juvenile is entitled to several things, such as a lawyer. The lawyer, in this case, may be an attorney or a court-appointed attorney. The family may also decide to have their private lawyer stand in the case. Apart from the lawyer, the juvenile is entitled to have complete information about the charges against them (Gibson et al., 2022). They must inform the accused of the charges and allow them to defend themselves on the charges through their lawyers. The juveniles also have the right to cross-examine and confront witnesses. For example, the accused juvenile has the right to ask a witness who says testifies contrary to the will of the accused.

Theoretical Framework: The Social Control Theory

The Social Control Theory, which Hirschi Travis put forth, notes that fiascos brought about by juvenile criminals have an immense social impact. At the same time, their growth directs them to take part in sensible actions. The influences may originate from friends, beliefs, social activities, and family members. According to various scholars, social control theory highlights the leading causes of adolescent delinquency. The theory indicates the essence for children to experience strong peer and parental attachments during their growth and development (Costello et al., 2020). The theory poses that juveniles’ social and family attachments to their environment have a far-reaching impact on their personality. The theory also notes that positive links to friends and families assist juveniles to have good moral impacts, which propels them to grow and develop as model people. The social control theory also argues that when parental influence is good, teenagers and children do not participate in unlawful behaviors. The theory also indicates that positive peer impacts are critical in helping juveniles and adolescents to behave and act more responsibly.

This prevents them from indulging in criminal acts (Robert, 2020). External links to schools and communities have a significant impact on the character and behaviors of juveniles. Any negative or positive influence dictates how a young person behaves within society. The theory also shows how commitment to society is essential and how it affects the life of adolescents and juveniles while they are growing. Juveniles who are dedicated to a particular organization or social group are like to evade engaging in criminal acts. Therefore, they grow up with an element of responsibility and duty, making them accept societal norms and values (Costello et al., 2020). This prevents them from getting enticed into criminal activities since their dedication to optimistic societal values and principles offers them an excellent moral base making them grow a holistic, responsible life.

Children gain much knowledge from the social systems they are in contact with, which impacts their attitudes and behaviors toward authority. The advantage of this is that they grow without committing any crimes or deviating from moral principles. The theory also indicates that beliefs in normal behavior enable adolescents and juveniles to take the direction in life. Societies consider trust, honesty, fairness, kindness, and integrity the fundamental virtues that nurture an individual’s character. These characteristics encourage juveniles to shun getting into unlawful activities, which many people in society prohibit.


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