The juvenile justice system is the system that focuses specifically on addressing criminal activities carried out by individuals who are under the age of 18. Minors who have not yet turned 18 are considered to be juveniles. There are certain procedures that are used to handle juveniles who have been convicted of committing crimes. They usually do not receive the same types of sentences that adult criminals do.
Scientific evidence indicates that children's brains are not fully developed, and therefore, they are not able to reason the same way that adults can. Therefore, they cannot be held liable for their actions the same way that adults can. Though intervention is necessary, sentencing juveniles to the same punishments and adults would be cruel. In addition, studies show the children are able to learn and modify their behavior. As a result, adequate education and counseling can help a minor to change his/her behavior and avoid criminal behavior in the future.
The juvenile justice system is responsible for the trial, conviction, and sentencing of minors. Just as the criminal justice system operates on a federal and state level, the juvenile justice system can also operate on a federal and state level. However, in the majority of cases, juvenile justice processes are the responsibility of each individual state.
Every state throughout the United States, maintains a juvenile justice department, which is responsible for overseeing the care and rehabilitation of juvenile delinquents. Often, juvenile offenders will be placed within juvenile detention facilities, where they will be educated, and have access to counseling. The specific service offered by a juvenile justice department varies greatly from one state to another.