The justice system includes different laws and regulations when dealing with people under the age of 18 and 21. These changes are related to the status of these offenders, whereas they are considered “minorities” for jurisdictional purposes. In this paper, I chose Passaic, New Jersey, for the analysis of its laws, regulations, and programs related to this type of offense. In this county, it is called “juvenile delinquency,” which is defined as a crime that is committed by a person under the age of 18 (“Juvenile Unit”). This research paper describes these offenses, measures that are taken to reduce their occurrence, and contains recommendations regarding these initiatives.
Status offenses in Passaic fall into one of the several categories of crime. They include public order offenses, violent behavior, drug or alcohol usage or possession, property damage or trespassing, weapons offenses, and miscellaneous offenses (Porrino and Brown). The Juvenile Unit of the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office is responsible for apprehending these cases (“Juvenile Unit”). The Family Court also provides its support for the Juvenile Court to help with the efficient resolution of such incidents (“Juvenile Unit”). The primary outcomes for status offenders are home detention, community work, and obligatory educational courses for an entire family.
The county regulations are aimed to increase public safety without extensive arrests and security detentions. The juvenile justice system was reformed in 2016 to become less punishing and take a course on reeducation instead of detention (Christie et al.). These measures have shown a significant impact on the number of criminal charges against juvenile criminals, and the crime rate continues to decrease each year (Christie et al.). The average length of punishment for juvenile delinquency is on the rise in Passaic, which indicates the increased amount of time spent on re-educating (Christie et al.). Overall, Passaic does not only see a decrease in criminal activity among youth but also pays less due to the lower costs of rehabilitation.
Several new measures aim to decrease the number of juvenile offenders in the county. The current primary objective of the juvenile justice system is to reduce the number of detentions and the number of the most severe crimes conducted by people under the age of 18 (Porrino and Brown). The rate of youth crimes has been going down for Christie et al. report that “one thousand nine hundred and eighteen (1,918) youth were arrested in Passaic County in 2015” (20). Comparing these statistics with the data from 2012, it can be seen that the number of arrests is down by 18.8% (Porrino and Brown). First-time offenders are often excluded from formal hearings, except for the most severe cases (“Juvenile Unit”). These measures are proven to be efficient, and statistics do show that they prevent harmful behavior.
In conclusion, the juvenile justice system in Passaic is on the right course to achieve the lowest number of young criminals. However, Porrino and Brown state that “Passaic County is among the top three counties for other delinquent behaviors” (25). As these issues stem from parents, my recommendation is to increase the control over child abuse and neglect in families that are the most susceptible to this behavior. The extension of family support, additional education for parents with problematic children, and similar measures can efficiently decrease the number of crimes committed by juvenile offenders. A quick resolution of a family crisis can prevent minor misbehavior, such as running away from home, truancy, and other safety concerns that are counted as a status offense.
Christie, Chris, et al. “New Jersey Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI) 2016 Annual Data Report.” Official Site of the State of New Jersey, Web.
“Juvenile Unit.” Passaic County, New Jersey, Web.
Porrino, Christopher S., and Kevin M. Brown. “Comprehensive County Youth Services Plan.” Passaic County, New Jersey, 2018, Web.