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Sunday, August 29, 2010

Criminal Law - Juvenile Delinquency

Undesirable Peer Relationship

While not typically a gang experience, delinquency does tend to be a shared experience for both males and females. In their study of delinquencies in the Flint, Michigan area, Haney and Gold (1973) found that about 1/3 of the delinquent acts were committed in association with one or two other persons, and most of the remainder involved three or four other persons. Usually the offender and the companion/s were of the same sex. Interestingly enough girls were more likely than boys to have a constant friend or companion in delinquency. Unfortunately, there is little research data on the effect of associating with delinquent friends or companion, and such effects probably vary, depending on the individual.

General Socio Cultural Factors
Here, we are concerned with broad social conditions that tend to produce delinquency. Interrelated factors that appear to be of key importance include alienation and rebellion, social rejection, and the psychological support afforded by membership in a delinquent gang.

Alienation and rebellion
Feeling of alienation and rebellion are common to many teen-agers today from all socio-economic levels. For e.g. we find middle-class youth who are uncommitted to the values of their parents or the “establishment” but at the same time are confused about their own values and sense of identity. Often they view the adult world as a hostile and a phony place, inhabited by people who work at useless jobs that they pompously assume are meaningful and who try to “sell’ the younger generation on a fraudulent and inevitable unfulfilling way of life. Outwardly the youths may passively submit to their elder’s demands, or they may openly disobey parental and other adult authority and crate to the end of the problems for themselves and their families. In either event, alienation from family and the border society expose the youth to becoming a “captive of his peers” – to whom he may turn for guidance and approval. Thus he is likely to identify with and joins peer groups that engage in the use of illegal drugs or other behavior considered delinquent. In some instances these alienated youths may rebel, leave home, and drift into groups in which delinquent behavior is the way of life, as in the case of runaway tee-age girls who become affiliated with organized prostitutions. The alienated and rebellious behavior of socially disadvantages youth may lead to the same pattern, although its onset is much more likely to be directed associated with poverty, deprivation, and discrimination.

The “Social rejects”
A new population element is making itself increasingly sfrlt in our society. The consists of young people who lace the motivation or ability to do well in school and “drop out” as soon as they can. With increasing automation and the demand for occupational skills-whether in the trades or in the managerial of professional fields-there are few jobs for which they can qualify. Augmenting this population are students who graduate from high school but whose training does not qualify them for available occupational opportunities. Whether they come from upper, middle or lower-class homes and whether they drop out or continue through high school they have one crucial problem in common-they discover that they are not needed in the society. They are victims of “social progress”- “social rejects”. While some are able to obtain additional training in specific job areas, others appear unable to find or hold jobs, and still others aimlessly from one unsatisfactory job to another.
In a study of 177 institutionalized teen-age male, delinquents, McCandless, Parsons,a nd Roberts (1972) found an average of 5 years’ academic retardation, with reading at less that the fourth-grade level. With that academic handicap, such teen-agers are at serious disadvantages in the job market; many may engage if, delinquent behavior partly as a result of underlying feelings of frustration, confusion, and hopelessness. In this context, it is interesting to note that Odell (1974) found a program that combined educational development and job placement-facilitating entry into the “opportunity structure”- more effective that traditional case-work methods in preventing juvenile recidivism.

Delinquent gang cultures
Hence personal psychopathology per se is not as much focus as organized group pathology, involving rebellion against the norms of society. As Jenkins (1969) has expressed it:
While the problem of delinquent gangs is most prevalent in lower socioeconomic areas, it is by no means restricted to them, nor does it occur only in particular racial, ethnic, or social groups. While there are many reasons for joining delinquent gangs-including fear of personal injury by gang members if one does not join- most members of delinquent gangs them a sense of belonging and a means of gaining some measures of status and approval. It may also represent a means of committing robberies and other illegal acts for financial gain- acts that the individual could not successfully perform alone (Feldman & Weisfeld, 1973)
Juvenile and other enforcement authorities in major U.S. cities have expressed concern about the increasing number and violence of delinquent juvenile gangs . In Los Angeles, for e.g. there are an estimated 200 such gangs, well organized and dangerous (Hazlett, 1974). Police estimate that there are over 800 hard-core leaders, each with a record of 10 or more arrests. The typical gang activist is between 14 and 22 years of age, but a size able and increasing number are under 14 of age. The better organized and more violent gangs have turned from knives and zip guns to more lethal weapons, including sawed-off shotguns and automatic rifles, their activities ranges from “warfare” with rival gangs to pursue snatching, robbery, assault, and homicide. As one Los Angeles police captain expressed it to hazlett (1974).
Nor are delinquent gangs confined to males. Fenmale gangs have developed in recent years and provide much the same function for confused, resentful, and defiant girls are male gangs do for boys. In these gangs the girls create “own world” for purposes of belonging protection, and defiance. In the gang they find acceptance, rules, loyalty, authority, discipline, and many of the components that they cannot find or accept in the adult world. Many of these female gangs are affiliated with male gangs, while maintaining their own separate organizations. Statistics indicate that girls are involved in about 15 to 30% of all delinquent gang that come to the attention of police.
Here it must be noted that though India faces much the same problem and there has been an increase in the proportion of females in juvenile delinquency, there is no information regarding the activities of juvenile gangs involving females.
It should be emphasized that the majority of delinquent do not belong to delinquent gangs, nor do the majority of juvenile gangs fall in the delinquent category. Many are organized for recreational and other constructive purposes. And not all delinquent gangs are highly hundred black and Mexican-American gangs, both male and female, Klien (1968) found low cohesiveness, shifting-oleos, and little relation to adult criminal groups. More recently, however, three appears to be an increase in both the organization and cohesiveness of delinquent gangs as well as ion the violent nature of their activities. Ironically, the arrears in which delinquent gangs appear to best organized and to operate most widely are generally provided with first rate typically recreation facilities, which such gangs typically use as convenient meeting places. Again it must be noted here that despite the cultural differences of the countries where these studies were conducted and India, strangely the psychology of the juvenile delinquents is much the same and so are their techniques.

Unusual stresses and other factors
We have noted that many delinquent acts are based on momentary impulses or are part of the regular activities of a delinquent gang. Delinquent behavior may also be precipitated by some relatively minor event, as when a riot is triggered by a fight between two youths. And of course, it may sometimes two inadvertent, resulting from innocent pranks that backfire.
Thus, it can be seen that juvenile delinquency is a result of various economical, social. Cultural and psychological factors that go against a minor who once termed as a juvenile delinquent is labeled with the term and is perceived as a criminal throughout his life creating a vicious circle. A juvenile delinquent normally has socially maladjustments as a casual factor in his turning a delinquent. When he is labeled as a criminal his social interactions with people become even more negative and he is forced to turn to a group of delinquents like him or worst hard shell criminals for support. Thus, a vicious cycle is created. It is bound for these juveniles who come from a criminal background and for whom crime is a profession that runs in family. Thus, it sometimes becomes extremely difficult to integrate them in the mainstream. Still, some techniques and measures have been found comparatively efficient in preventing formation of the vicious cycle referred to.

Dealing with Delinquency
Juvenile institutions and training schools can be of grate help to youths who need to be removed from aversive environments and given a chance to learn about themselves and their world, to further education and develop needed skills, and to find purpose and meaning in their lives. In such settings the youths may have to opportunity to receive psychological counseling, group therapy, and guided group interaction. Here it is of key importance that peer-group pressures are channeled in the direction of resocialization, rather than toward repetitive delinquent behavior. Behavior-therapy techniques- based on the assumption that delinquent behavior is learned, maintained, and changed according to the same principles as other learned behavior can show marked promise in the rehabilitation of juvenile offenders who require institutionalization. Counseling with parents and related sociotherapeutic measures are generally of vital importance in the total rehabilitation program.
Probation is another method that is used widely with juvenile offenders in other countries. In keeping with the trend toward helping troubled persons in their own environments, the California Youth Authority conducted. The Community Treatment Project, a 5-year experiment in which delinquents-other than those involved in such crimes as murder, rape, or arson-were granted immediate probation and supervised and assisted in their own communities. The 270 youths treated in this project showed a rehabilitation success rate of 72% during a 15-month follow-up period. In contrast, a comparable group of 357 delinquents who underwent institutional treatment and then were released on probation showed a rehabilitation success rate of only 48% (Blake, 1967). Since 90% of the girls and 73% of the boys committed to the California Youth Authority by juvenile courts can be guided into constructive behavior without being removed from their family or community. It may be noted, however, that a key factor in the success of this pioneering research project was a marked reduction in the case of supervising probation officers.
Institutionalization seems particularly questionable in the case of “juvenile status offenders”, youths whose offenses have involved acts that would not be considered criminal if committed by an adult, such as running away from home or engaging in sexual relations. In such instances, institutionalization may aggravate behavioral problem rather than correct them. For e.g., mixing juvenile status offenders and “real” delinquents in detention facilities may provide learning experiences for non-delinquents on how to become delinquents. On the other hand, failure to institutionalize delinquents who have committed serious offenses such as robbery, assault, and murder, may be a disservice to both the delinquents and the public. In essence, it seems essential to correct the “bizarre lumping” of major felonies, minor misdemeanors, and trivial violation of social norms the general label of “juvenile delinquency”. This would enable many delinquents to be dealt with educational and social-work agencies rather than the justice systems and would make it possible for treatment programs to better meet the needs of individual delinquents.
One key task in dealing with troubled youth is that of opening lines of communication with them. The behavior of even some of the most “hard core” delinquent gangs has shown marked improvement when social workers or police officers have managed to win their confidence and respect. Often such personnel can help channel the youths, activities into mobile or motorcycle rallies and other programs that provide both recreational and learning opportunities. Too often, however, as in the case of institutional and probation programs, lack of trained personnel and other resources prevent such programs.
Fortunately, legislations have been enacted and special bodies formed specifically for dealing with these problems, as shall as discussed later. The big need, of course, is not only for more effective rehabilitation programs but also long-range programs aimed at the prevention of delinquency. This would mean alleviation of slum conditions, provision of adequate and recreational opportunities for disadvantages youth. Education of parents, and delineation of a more meaningful societal role for adolescents tasks for the whole society.

Juvenile delinquency and Law

The need for and importance of progressive delinquency prevention policies and the systematic study and the elaboration of measures has been recognized internationally and treaties have been signed by countries resolving to take steps toward eliminating the problem of juvenile delinquency (The Riyadh Guidelines) adopted and proclaimed by General Assembly resolution 45/112 of 14 Dec. 1990 aims at forming policies for the elimination of this problem and states.
The policies and measures should involve:
a. The provision of opportunities, in particular educational opportunities, to meet the varying needs of youth persons and to serve as a supportive framework for safeguarding the personal development of all young persons, particularly those who are demonstrably endangered or at social risk and are in need of special care and protection;
b. Specialized philosophies and approaches for delinquency prevention, on the basis of laws, processes, institutions, facilities and a serve delivery network aimed at reducing the motivation, need and opportunity for, or conditions giving rise to, the commission of infractions;
c. Official intervention to be pursued primarily in the overall interest of the young person and guided by fairness and equity;
d. Safeguarding the well-being, development, rights and interests of all young persons;
e. Consideration that youthful behavior or conduct that does not conform to overall social norms and values is often part of the maturation and growth process and tends to disappear spontaneously in most individuals with the transition to adulthood;
f. Awareness that, in the predominant opinion of experts, labeling a young person as “deviant”, “delinquent” or “pre-delinquent” often contributes to the development of a consistent pattern of undesirable behavior by young persons.
It also states that community-based services and programs should be developed for the prevention of juvenile delinquency, particularly where no agencies have yet been established. According to these guidelines, formal agencies of social control should only be utilized as a means of last resort. It places emphasis on preventive policies facilitating the successful socialization and integration of all children and young persons, in particular through the family, the community, peer groups, schools, vocational training and the world to work, as well as through voluntary organizations. It makes government liable to promote and provide education to all children, a field where India sadly lags behind. It also stresses on the importance of giving special attention to comprehensive policies and strategies for the prevention of alcohol, drug and other substances abuse by young persons.
These guidelines in brief crystallize the attitude of the international community towards this problem. Though on many arenas India is unable to confirm its approach towards the same problem with the international guidelines, it has come close to following them in toto at least in theory.
The juvenile Justice Act, 1986 (hereinafter referred to as the Act) defines a delinquent juvenile as a boy less than 16 years of age or a girl under 18 years of age who has been found to commit an act or omission made punishable under any law in force at a given time. The Act envisages a class of “neglected and uncontrollable children” amongst the delinquents. A neglected juvenile has been defined as a child who-
 Is found begging; or
 Is found without having any home or settled place of abode or any ostensible means of subsistence or is found destitute, whether he is an orphan or not; or
 Has a parent or guardian who is unfit to exercise or does not exercise proper care and control over the child; or
 Lives in a brothel or with a prostitute or frequently goes to any place used for the purpose of prostitution, or is found to associate with any prostitute or any other person who leads an immoral, drunken or developed life.

This class of neglected and uncontrollable juveniles is dealt with by the Juvenile Welfare Boards and not by the Juvenile Courts. It is credit to the Act that it envisages a Juvenile Welfare Board as such neglected children most of the times need guidance and help mand not retribution. Another reason for applauding the legislators is the nature of the Juvenile Courts, salient feature of which are as follows :

 Separate Hearing for Children’s Cases
The juvenile Courts are exclusively meant for children. These courts are both distinct and independent of ordinary courts in terms of personnel or may be parts of the ordinary courts with wider jurisdiction. There may be whole time judges for these courts or magistrates and judges of ordinary courts may be given special duties in juvenile courts.

 Informal Hearing
The proceedings in a juvenile court are characterized by the nature of the hearing which is very simple and informal compared to the one in adult courts. Unlike the adult courts, where the procedure and evidence are based on legalistic considerations, the proceedings in a juvenile court are somewhat in the nature of a confidence taking place between the judge, the probation officer, the social worker, the child and the parents. The issue, generally speaking, is not whether the child committed an alleged offence, since that is ordinarily not denied, but why he did so, and what is more relevant is social rather than legal evidence. The report of the probation officer assumes great significance in this context. The informal nature however, does not imply that the general basic rules of procedures of criminal law are disregarded.

 Private Hearing
Unlike the adult courts, only those who are directed concerned with the case are allowed to be present inside the court.

 Curtailed Right to Counsel
Since the procedure and evidence in a juvenile court are of informal nature and the assumption being that the proceedings are in the interest of the child, it is believed that a lawyer should not present represent the child.

 Protection Against Legal Consequences and Stigma
The law provides certain safeguards to save juvenile offenders from the criminal stigma and from disabilities arising out of the legal consequences of an action by a juvenile court. The Act provides that no disqualification would be attached to the child delinquent due to the conviction in a juvenile court.

 Appeals from the Juvenile Courts’ orders
No appeal lies form an order of acquittal made by the children’s court in respect of a child alleged to have committed an offence, or order of the Board that the child is not neglected.

 Non-Penal Sanctions
No delinquent juvenile can be sentences for death or imprisonment or committed to prison in default of payment of fine or in default of furnishing security. The courts may allow the juvenile to go home after advice or adonition, or release him on probation under the care and supervisions of parents or nay other fit person or institution or direct the juvenile to be sent to a special school.

Rehabilitation of Juvenile Delinquents in India
The rehabilitation programs for juvenile delinquents in India can be divided into two categories:
1. institutional Treatment Programs
2. Community Based Programs

Institutional Treatment Programs
Institutional programs to rehabilitate juvenile delinquents may be classified into three categories:
1. Observation Home
2. Juvenile Home
3. Special Home

 Observation Home
Section 2 of the juvenile Justice Act provides for the establishment and maintenance of observation homes for the temporary reception of juveniles during the pendency of any enquiry against them. At present there are more than 246 observation home in India. Besides offering basic facilities like food, shelter, medical facilities and useful occupation to the children, these homes also provide the officers to observe them at close quarters. The Act requires that the neglected children and other delinquents must be housed separately. However, the crucial role of these homes in rehabilitating children is greatly affected by the day-to-day problems encountered in the management of the homes. Contravening the provisions of the Act, all delinquents are housed together. Necessary facilities and amenities extended to the children sometimes do not meet the minimum standards. They are often overcrowded and the inmates are unable to receive individual attention, which is important for their rehabilitation. Needless to state, these homes suffer from resource constraints as well as lack of will leading to an adverse impact on the rehabilitation of the children under their care. Juvenile Homes and Special Homes Generally, in correctional institutions (juveniles/special homes) two types of programs are offered to the juvenile. On the one hand, basic amenities and on the other hand, various types of education and vocational training are imparted through instructors. A classification system based on age, physical and mental health, length of commitment, degree if delinquency and character is used to enhance the effectiveness of the programs. Besides, cultural meets, parents- inmates-staff meetings, community contacts, visits to outside institutions, excursions etc., are conducted to facilitate the socio-cultural development of the inmates. All these inputs are expected to help them reform and develop a healthy personality to lead an independent and normal life in the community after their release from the institution. While achieving this, juveniles in this institution are subjected to a certain routine in the institution, which has its implication on their rehabilitation. Evaluation of the Institutional programs to rehabilitate Juvenile Delinquents: Contemporary correctional institutions in the country appear to be in the doldrums. The quality and quantity of services and training offered to the juveniles is questionable and can be rightly and freely criticized. The lack-luster involvement of the staff at various levels is reflected in the painfully slow and development in the juveniles, and in their low capacity to cope with the difficulties they encounter after release. The institutions do not have adequate economic means, which affects their will to work. Most of the vocational programs/courses are also highly outdated. The zeal for and environment of correction and reformation if dying away in these institutions. In brief it can be said that these institutions are going through a crisis and this crisis is greatly and (unfortunately adversely affecting the rehabilitation of the juvenile delinquents, killing the last hope of assimilating them in mainstream. Community Based Programs Non-institutional or community based rehabilitation programs for juvenile delinquents may include probation release on licence, aftercare and juvenile service/ guidance bureau. Probation Probation as a rehabilitation measure is one of the most significant approaches in community-based corrections. Sections 19 and 21 of the Act deal with the subject of probation. Under these provisions, the probation officer is expected to obtain information regarding the antecedents and family history of the juvenile and other material circumstances likely to be of assistance to the juvenile court in conducting an enquiry. On the basis of enquiry the juvenile court gives its decision. The court may order the juvenile to remain under the supervision of the probation officer for a period not exceeding three years. In the case of such order for supervision, the court shall explain to the juvenile and his/her guardian the terms and conditions of the order. The juvenile welfare board too may instead of sending the juvenile to a juvenile home may place him under the care of any guardian executing a bond with or without surety. The probation officer often counsels the family and concerned persons to understand and face the personal or environmental problems leading to the juvenile’s delinquent behavior, so that they may mitigate the problems facing the juvenile and facilitate his rehabilitation. On the other hand the effective probation supervision ability and dedication of the probation officers are partly affected by a number of facts, which in turn affect the rehabilitation of the juveniles. These factors include services, administration and public relations of probation. The service conditions of a probation officer are highly unfavorable as there is no uniformity in pay and they are underpaid. They are not trained either. They do not secretarial assistance. The ordinary people unaware of the probation system and thus do not cooperate with a probation officer. These and many other factors combine together to make the system completely useless.

 Release on license/Aftercare
Release in license is also knows as statutory and sometimes as aftercare. The difference between statutory aftercare and non-statutory aftercare is that in the former the juvenile is released on supervision on the condition that he will be returned to the institution, if he violates the conditions, whereas in the later there is no such legal binding as he is released from the institution after completing the entire period. However, the programs and services offered to both categories of juveniles are more or less similar. Section 49 of the Act deals with the release of the juvenile on license, section 12 (a, b) of the Act empower the State govt. to make rules to establish or recognize aftercare organizations for the purpose of taking care of juveniles after they have been released from juvenile homes or special homes and for the purpose of enabling them to lead an honest, industrious and useful; life. More importantly, Section 12 ( c) of the Act provides for the preparation or submission of a report by the probation officer in respect of each juvenile prior to his release on license or voluntary aftercare from a juvenile home or special home, as the case may be, regarding the necessity and nature of aftercare of such juvenile, the period of such aftercare, supervision thereof and for the submission of a report by the probation officer on the progress of each such juvenile. This report certainly facilities the planning of the aftercare programs for juveniles.

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