II. Alternatives for Addressing the Juvenile Justice Controversy
Many scholars agree that the juvenile justice system is not dealing effectively with juvenile crime.134 Scholars disagree, however, about the effectiveness of the state reforms initiated as part of the recent national trend to shift the focus of the juvenile justice system from rehabilitation to punishment and deterrence.135 The general debate on how to reform the treatment of juvenile offenders has produced three main alternatives.136
One proposed alternative is to abolish the juvenile justice system, thereby ending the separation between the juvenile and criminal justice systems.137 Abolitionists maintain that the current juvenile justice system contains serious shortcomings.138 They claim that the procedural protections afforded by the juvenile court are inferior to those provided in adult criminal court.139 Indeed, according to abolitionists, juveniles commonly are represented by lawyers with little experience and, in many states, are not entitled to jury trials.140 Abolitionists also [*PG406]claim that juvenile offenders do not receive individualized dispositions because the juvenile justice system does not have the resources to provide specialized treatment.141 Further, abolitionists argue that incarceration of juveniles is viewed as punishment, even if imposed in the name of treatment.142 Finally, supporters of this alternative believe that the current two-tiered justice system, where cases are allocated merely on the basis of an “age of majority,” cannot be effective because all children do not mature at the same age.143
In addition to arguing that the shortcomings of the current juvenile justice system have prevented it from achieving its original goals, abolitionists also point out that the recent reforms have brought the juvenile justice system closer in resemblance to the adult system.144 The due process protections required by the Supreme Court have added formality to a juvenile...