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Phase 1: Individual Project Colorado Technical University Online CJUS 285-02 October 14, 2011 Tami Helms

As a state legislator, I feel that the juvenile cases should be put in two categories status and delinquency. Do I feel that it should be in two different courts? The answer is yes. I feel that it would be better for the youth offender that has a status offense not to be mixed with the harder delinquency ones. One of my reasons for this is pear pressure. If one of the status offenders happen ends to be in court with someone they know they may not be so willing to comply with what is being offered to them. Instead that might want to seem tough and act out. I dont think that money should be an issue in setting up two courts for our youth. There are more funds spent on building prisons, than on building schools. Just this alone shows that we are giving up on our youth. Studies have shown that almost half of the juveniles that are in the justice system perform under their grade level and 30% have a learning disability. It is my suggestion that we concentrate on this also. We need to spend more funding on getting adequate programing and academic teaching while our youth are in these juvenile detention facilities (Kathleen Michon, 2011). I would break the educational needs into three priorities; my first being intervention programs for at risk youth, better educational services for our youth that are in juvenile detention centers, and having some after school programs for our neglected youth to build their self-worth. In court cases of minors, a "status offense" includes behavior that would not be considered a crime if an adult had committed it in other words the activities are measured to be a violation of the law only because the offender is under the age of eighteen years of age (Kathleen Michon, 2011).

The type of conduct that constitutes status offenses differs from state to state. The more common status offenses include: underage possession and use of tobacco, underage possession and consumption of alcohol, violating a city or county curfew, running away or being beyond the control of parents or guardians, violating a city or county curfew, and truancy. The average per year of status offenses are in the range of 20%. To me with the world like it is this statistics are not so high.

Status offenses are always handled in a juvenile court. The courts usual goal is to hold families together, to guarantee public safety, and to avert minors from becoming delinquents and committing harsher crimes in the future (Michon, 2010)

In 1974 the Federal Juvenile Delinquency Act focused on "deinstitutionalizing" status offenses. This gave most of the control to the prosecutors. Prosecutors could send status offenders away from juvenile court and aim it more towards government agencies that could provide the minor and their families with services to at-risk children. There are some states that consider the status offender minors as neglected or "dependent" juveniles. In these cases they become ward of the state. This I dont completely agree with. I feel that they should reach out to other family members or people of the community that what to help steer our youth in a better direction. All states handle status offenders cases in different ways, however most states refer to minor offender as juveniles in need of supervision, government services, or guardian care. In the year 1997, there were only 5 status offense cases that were officially handled by the court system, and the percentage was even lower for cases that actually made it to juvenile court (Juvenile Justice, 2013).

In delinquency cases there does need to be a more enforced structure. To me a delinquent is one of our youth that has been in and out of the system. Somewhat like the three strike law (just not meaning life in prison) meaning that if the offender has been given three or more chances before being put into a juvenile detention center. In these cases I feel that the youth feels that they can play the system. I am not saying lock them up for a long period of time. What I am trying to say is give them a little taste of what their life could be if they do not get on the right track. I also feel that in these cases there is more to the story than just the child being out of control. In these cases I am not talking about the violent offenders. In regards to the violent crimes, I feel that we have the responsibility to ensure the safety of others. I have mixed feelings in this area. One example is a case that I reviewed where a girl that was thirteen killed her stepfather. There had been calls to child protective services about her well-being. Somehow these calls were considered unfounded, however after the youth committed the murder of her step-father it was showed that he had been under suspicion for molesting his real children. This was also her claim; however she is awaiting trial for murder. I feel that the system failed her like so many other children have been failed. Once again I feel every case needs to be looked at separately. I do know that there are some bad seeds and not all of our youth deserves chance after chance. I am just saying lets look deeper. There is so much money wasted in so many areas, I feel that more should be put towards saving the future of our country. If I were a state legislator, my concentration would be on laws that put in place more programs for the juveniles. If the states had more money to emphasize on the needs of each

individual case, I feel that the outcome would be better than research shows that it is at the present.

References Juvenile Justice. (2013, na na). Retrieved from Children's Defense: www.childrensdefense.org Kathleen Michon, J. (2011, na na). Juvenile Law: Status Offenses. Retrieved from Nolo Law for All: www.nolo.com Michon, K. (2010, na na). Juvenile Court: An Overview. Retrieved from Nolo Law for All: www.nolo.com