The Development Of Juvenile Justice Essays Example

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Criminal Justice, Crime, Court, Juvenile, Supreme Court, Punishment, Juvenile Court, Jurisdiction

Pages: 2

Words: 550

Published: 2023/04/10

The juvenile justice system was created to treat and rehabilitate juvenile offenders. As a result, policies and court decisions tend to reflect this goal. In this essay, three of the most important court cases regarding the juvenile justice system will be discussed. The first examines when a juvenile can be tried as an adult, and what steps must first be taken in the juvenile court. The second court case looks at what mitigating factors must be considered when sentencing a 16 or 17-year-old offender to capital punishment. The third case will look into whether 16 or 17-year-old offenders receiving the death penalty constitute cruel and unusual punishment as defined in the 8th Amendment.
The case of Kent v. United States decided when a juvenile court could waive its jurisdiction and charge a juvenile as an adult. Morris A. Kent, a 16-year-old boy was sought and detained by police in connection with multiple incidents involving robbery and rape. During his interrogation, Kent admitted to some involvement, causing the juvenile court to waive its jurisdiction and indict Kent as an adult. However, Kent moved to dismiss the charges because the juvenile court did not conduct a full investigation before waiving jurisdiction. The Supreme Court sided with Kent in this case, and decided there was not a sufficient investigation prior to the juvenile court waiver of jurisdiction.
The decision of Kent vs. United States was essential in the development of the juvenile justice system. The Supreme Court determined that a full investigation must be conducted by the juvenile court before the court can waive its jurisdiction. This ensures that all juvenile court cases have been properly examined and analyzed by a judge before they can be sent to an adult court. It also ensures that juveniles have access to counsel, a hearing, and access to their own criminal history, protections that Kent did not receive (Kent v. United States, 2016). The decision of this case prevents juvenile court waivers of jurisdiction from being overused, which limits the number of juveniles that are tried as adults. As a result, juvenile offenders tend to be kept in the juvenile court system unless there is sufficient evidence of, usually a violent crime, that results in the juvenile being tried as an adult.
In Eddings v. Oklahoma, the Supreme Court reversed the death sentence of a 16-year-old tried as an adult in criminal court. The court noted that there are several mitigating factors involved with juveniles, including their age, mental and emotional development. Additionally, the court said that adolescents are less responsible, mature, and self-disciplined than adults and are less able to think of the long term consequences of their actions (Just, 1984, p. 501).
The decision of Eddings v. Oklahoma was a very important development for the juvenile justice system. This case decided whether the Supreme Court should address the plain error committed by the trial court when it refused to consider relevant mitigating evidence. By doing so, the Court guaranteed that all relevant mitigating factors involved in a defendant’s character would be reviewed and weighed against the evidence of the aggravating circumstances. While this did not rule on whether the youth’s age protected him from the death penalty, it did say that it was a very important factor to be considered along with other mitigating factors.
The case of Stanford v. Kentucky ruled on whether the imposition of the death penalty on convicted capital offenders below the age of 18 violates the 8th Amendment’s protection against cruel and unusual punishment. The Court decided that the decision whether to subject 16 or 17 year olds to the death penalty must be made by the states and cannot be categorically pronounced as cruel and unusual punishment (Stanford v. Kentucky, 2016). This is important to the development of the juvenile justice system because it turned the issue of capital punishment for 16 and 17 year olds into a state issue. This has resulted in some states permitting this form of capital punishment, while others prohibit it.


Just, R. (1984). Executing Youthful Offenders: The Unanswered Question in Eddings v. Oklahoma. Fordham Urban Law Journal, 13(2), 471-510.
Kent v. United States. (n.d.). Oyez. Retrieved January 4, 2016, from
Stanford v. Kentucky. (n.d.). Oyez. Retrieved January 4, 2016, from

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