Official reaction to juvenile delinquency
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Official Reaction to Juvenile Delinquency. Components of the Juvenile Justice System II: Pretrial. Elements Involved in Pretrial. Intake. Diversion. Detention. Adult Transfer. Petition. Intake. Refers to the screening of cases by the juvenile court system

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Official Reaction to Juvenile Delinquency

Components of the Juvenile Justice System II:


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Elements Involved in Pretrial




Adult Transfer


Intake l.jpg

  • Refers to the screening of cases by the juvenile court system

  • Done by intake officers who are often probation officers

  • Intake results in one of the following:

    • send youth home with no further action

    • divert youth to a social service agency

    • petition to juvenile court and release until court date

    • petition to court and hold in detention

    • waive (transfer) case to adult court

Juveniles at

intake hearing

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  • Refers to screening children from the court without judicial determination

  • Also referred to as:

    • nonjudicial adjustment

    • informal disposition

    • adjustment

  • Can be employed by police departments or courts

  • Encourages the child to participate in a specific program or activity with implied threat of further prosecution

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Pros and Cons of Diversion

  • Helps juvenile justice system run smoothly

  • Allows for reallocation of resources to other programs

  • Costs less than institutionalization

  • Helps children avoid being stigmatized



  • Results in “widening the net”

  • Many children who would have before simply sent home are now formally in the system

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  • Refers to the holding of children in secure facilities until trial

  • Pretrial detention normally used only when:

    • child might be inclined to run away before trial

    • child might be inclined to commit another serious crime

    • child is a violator from another jurisdiction

  • Alternatives to detention

    • send the child home (most common pre-trial procedure)

    • send to shelter care--less restrictive, normally for status offenders

    • send to foster care--normally for abused and neglected children

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Trends in Detention

  • Increases in detention are increasing despite decreases in delinquency

  • Reasons include:

    • rise in serious crime

    • increased link between drug use and delinquency

    • younger children becoming involved in serious crimes

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Problems With and Recommended Changes for Detention


  • Seen by some as incarceration without a trial

  • Due to discretion in who is and is not detained, there tends to be racial and class discrimination

  • May have a strong negative effect on child due to lack of rehabilitative services

  • Some jurisdictions still detain children in adult facilities


  • Some suggest prohibiting detention altogether

  • Should be reserved for juveniles representing a major threat to community

  • Should be some rehabilitative services provided

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Transfer to Adult Court

  • All states now have a provision to transfer juveniles to adult courts when deemed appropriate

  • Three models for adult transfer. They are not mutually exclusive:

    • Concurrent jurisdiction--prosecutor is given total discretion

    • Excluded offenses--statutorily identifies certain offenses as transferrable

    • Judicial Waiver--the court (not prosecutor) waives jurisdiction

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Pros and Cons of Adult Transfer


  • Some suggest that repeat, hardened offenders are beyond rehabilitation anyway

  • Need threat of tough punishment to deter them

Can you think of any other pros?


  • Opponents claim that that only half-hearted attempts have been made at rehabilitation

  • Claim that the transfer is a copout and admission of failure

Can you think of any other cons?

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The Petition

  • If a child is not diverted or waived, he/she will be petitioned to juvenile court

  • The petition is the formal legal complaint that initiates judicial action

  • A petition can be brought by:

    • a police officer

    • social service agency

    • family member or guardian

  • If child admits to allegations, hearing is scheduled to initiate a treatment plan

  • If child does not admit to facts of petition:

    • hearing is scheduled to hear the facts

    • predisposition report is prepared

    • parents are notified of hearing date