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Juvenile Justice System: Restorative Justice and Court Diversion

The broken window theory is a noteworthy concept in criminal justice. Proponents argue that to reduce major crimes, authorities need to nip petty crimes in the bud. It is particularly applicable to large cities or urban environments. One common illustration used in this theory is the concept of a broken window in a building. Vandals are prone to break more windows once they see that the premises have been neglected. Later, some of them may be prompted to enter the building and live in it; they could even go as far as lighting a fire inside it. This theory is fundamental in the historical development of criminal justice because it allows one to know the importance of social norms in demystifying crime. The Broken Window theory postulates that people can gauge social expectations in an environment through certain signals. A neglected part of a building indicates that the residents do not care much about their environment and that one can do as one pleases. Therefore, visitors would presume that they can easily commit crimes. In other words, this school of thought allows one to form a link between perceived behavioral expectation and the commission of a crime. This principle of law provides support for police intervention of minor crimes such as loitering, public urination, and fare dodging. It also provides a major backdrop for the implementation of zero-tolerance policies on crime.

Another criminal theory is the social contract theory, which is reflected partly in the broken window theory. Proponents believe that members of society all have their interests. However, if everyone executed those needs individually, then they would undergo losses or would not benefit as much as they would have if other members of society did the same. A common analogy applied here is the use of recycling bags to prevent land pollution. If only one person used them, it would cost him or her a lot of time and he or she would still live in a dirty environment. However, if all were bound by a contract to ensure that they use the recycling bags, then the environment would be cleaner, and all would benefit. The same reasoning can be applied to the idea of crime. People realize that they need their specific freedoms. However, because they need one another in their daily interactions, then they should be willing to sacrifice some of these freedoms through certain rules found in a social contract. The criminal justice system, therefore, acts as a social contract that binds everyone to certain rules such as respecting others’ lives, property, and so on. This theory is crucial in explaining the importance of the criminal justice system since it postulates that people would experience greater harm if they broke the socially agreed-upon rules. It provides a moral explanation of the laws that exist in society.

In the juvenile justice system, court diversion provides an alternative to traditional courts. Here, community-based systems are preferred over the juvenile court system. This structural component explains why first-time offenders are treated differently in the general criminal-justice system compared to their counterparts who had participated in crimes before. Court diversion of juveniles is based on the notion that some offenders are not as risky to their societies as others. This means that it would be more effective to sanction certain benefits than to prosecute those persons. The juvenile delinquent eventually learns about the repercussions of his or her actions and later gains the knowledge needed to make better decisions in the future. This concept is important in the juvenile system and the criminal-justice system generally because it involves the community at large. Reparation occurs to the affected victim or community and brings in a reconciliatory element.

Restorative justice is yet another important crucial component of the juvenile justice system. The phenomenon can be considered as part of court diversion but differs from it because attention is given to undoing the harm created during a crime. Here, the victim, the affected community, and the juvenile delinquent are all placed on an equal footing. Justice is said to be restored when the offender pays back the money he or she stole, does community service, or apologizes to the person who had been wronged. The model moves away from legal principles and ideologies and addresses the specific needs of the juvenile offender. This approach to juvenile justice is crucial in resolving the tensions that arise in criminal justice. Usually, when a crime has been committed, law enforcers are faced with the dilemma of dealing with the psychological and contextual issues that prompted the crime or punish the person for committing the crime. Restorative justice establishes a balance between the two issues. Stakeholders also have difficulty meeting the needs of the victims and protecting the victims’ rights. The public is a party to these issues because it needs to be protected from future crimes committed by that young person. Restorative justice attempts to reconcile all these tensions by getting to the root cause of the problem and offers very practical solutions to prevailing problems in criminal justice.

The case of Terry vs. Ohio (1968) was significant in the historical development of law and criminal-justice procedures because it made warrantless searches permissible in law. The Supreme Court established that warrantless searches must be assessed based on a reasonableness-balancing test. Evidence collected from searching and seizing can only be used if the need to search has been balanced by the degree of invasion that the seizure or the search has caused. This case was fundamental in guiding law enforcement authorities on how they can conduct themselves in the presence of criminals. Additionally, it was a landmark in the protection of citizens’ rights, which might be infringed upon if the police are given excessive rights to intrude. As a result, all authorities must assess whether their searches will cause immense inconveniences to the people involved before carrying them out. In Terry vs Ohio, the Court established that patting the suspected individual was not highly inconveniencing. In addition, it was also found that the police officer had a great level of ‘suspicion’ since he feared for his safety. He believed that they possessed armed weapons, and because his conviction was so strong then it was permissible for him to search. The ‘Terry stop’, as derived from the case, grants police greater powers than magistrates in deciding whether to conduct a seizure. It should be noted that magistrates usually give warrants only when there is probable cause. This case overrides that component in special circumstances.

Terry vs Ohio provides a platform for the protection of officers from harmful parties. Most of them may be in situations that require immediate action; there would be no room to look for warranties or establish probable cause. All that counts is that the search or seizure is reasonable. Such high-pressure situations can therefore be guided effectively using the reasonableness approach. Criminal procedures should be carried out in a manner that does not infringe upon citizens’ rights. This case ensures that citizens’ privacy is not infringed upon during the searching process. The other major contribution of this case to criminal-justice procedures is that it offers a mechanism for the assessment of all the important interests involved in a particular scenario.

Mapp vs. Ohio case intended to provide a safety net against officers who failed to obey the rules set out in the Terry vs. Ohio case. Through the exclusionary rule, it is possible to neutralize the use of evidence in court when that evidence had been obtained wrongly. This case is even more important than the Terry vs Ohio case because the exclusionary rule is the one that sets the pace for other rules that define situations in which police can search and seize. Police may sometimes make honest mistakes in searches, and this may allow a guilty person to go free. However, the Court established that failure to abide by Fourth amendment rules on privacy was even more detrimental than releasing a guilty man from the system owing to a technicality. Mapp vs Ohio was a landmark case because it provided a mechanism for protecting citizens against unlawful invasions and violations of privacy as stipulated in the Fourth amendment.

The burden of proof is crucial in the evolution of the criminal justice system because it ascertains that the person bringing forward a criminal case can illustrate that his or her version is the true one. Criminal trials are particularly troubling because they may cause the court to take away the defendant’s civil liberties. These are very serious repercussions and must only be done when the deciding body is sure about the facts. Since the plaintiff has the burden of proof, then the accused person is assumed to be innocent until he or she has been shown, beyond a reasonable doubt, to be guilty. The burden of proof is different in criminals because the bar has been set so high for the prosecutor. This concept also creates thoroughness in the process of determining whether a suspect is guilty or innocent. The burden of proof requires that all components of the crime be examined. It brings out the concept of reasonable doubt in the assessment of all these components. Prosecutors are expected to ensure moral certainty in deciding whether something is reasonable or not. It invokes the Fifth Amendment because it guarantees an accused person the right of assumed innocence so that no need to prove it arises. Defendants only have to assert that the prosecutor did not adequately prove his or her case to be freed. Sometimes defendants can escape punishment by using other strategies even when a case has been effectively proven. One can therefore assert that in criminal justice the burden of proof causes the system to favor the defendant over the prosecutor or the accuser.

‘Men’s rea’ is a part of the burden of proof in that a prosecutor must illustrate that a person had Mens rea when committing the crime. The term simply refers to possession of a criminal mind in Latin. It is not enough to render a person guilty; there must be evidence that actus reus also existed. When put in another way, it must be shown that the person committed the crime. Men’s rea can only be real when capacity responsibility exists. The defendant needs to have an ability to understand legal conduct and must know when to apply those rules or refrain from them. This principle is crucial in criminal justice because it absolves people who can show that their temperament, maturity levels, or their personalities were deficient enough to cause deviation. When no capacity responsibility is prevalent then men’s rea also does not exist and this completely removes concerned parties from liability to certain crimes. This is important because insanity can arise at any given moment. Mental illnesses may cause one to be deficient and may lead one to a crime. This idea provides a legal platform for the protection of such persons. Additionally, men’s rea ensures that people who are not grown enough to understand all the consequences of their actions are protected from conviction. This also contributes to the realization of better results. The criminal justice system has also been made more effective through men’s rea because it allows one to identify specific instances of the criminal mind. Examples include: joining unlawful groups and stealing another person’s property.

The Fourth Amendment has already been mentioned in earlier segments of the paper especially in the section on criminal procedure. This part guides the criminal justice system because it protects individuals’ rights. It came about when the general search warrant had been abused by law enforcers. The basic intention is the protection of citizens from unnecessary seizures and searches. In this regard, officers should only search a warrant that has been issued and also when it has been shown that there was probable cause for carrying out the search or seizure. The concerned officer must be legally permitted by a court of law through the warrant. Nonetheless, certain exceptions also exist as discussed earlier in the Terry vs Ohio case. The issue of probable cause was also effectively described in this legislation. Here, the parties involved need to demonstrate that the search will contribute to revelations of criminal activity. However, probable cause does not necessarily place an undue requirement for officers to illustrate that the facts they possess are false or true. The amendment allows for the use of common sense in the warrant application. The officer must simply use facts that would cause any reasonable person to conclude that criminal obedience or stolen property is located in that certain scene.

The Fifth Amendment is imperative in the criminal justice system because it covers several areas in arrest and handling of suspected people in courts of law. In one of the clauses, all accused persons are expected to answer to accusations only when juries are present. Such insertion is significant in protecting citizens against corrupt governments who may prosecute unfairly. Another clause deals with double jeopardy in that a person cannot be prosecuted for the same crime twice. This protects individuals from a poorly coordinated system. The amendment has a clause on self-incrimination that talks about defendants and self-testimony. No person is obligated to be a witness in his case. This component was added because, in the past, people would be coerced to confess to specific crimes so the constitution was amended in their favor. The amendment also discusses the due process in that one cannot be deprived of property, liberty, and life without due process; the clause ensures that governments cannot make up their own rules.

The 6th amendment protects individuals during trials. The clause on having a right to a speedy trial ensures that suspects do not stay in jail for too long. All trials are to be done publically so that people are not secretly prosecuted and tortured. Everyone is guaranteed a right to a trial by jury because corrupt judges may be compromised, or they may not see the big picture. The arraignment clause states that all persons shall have full knowledge of their accusation to prevent false charges. Accused people have the right to confront witnesses to guard against false accusations. They can also solicit witnesses and are entitled to counsel so that they can have the right to defend themselves.