Juveniles receive different treatment within the criminal justice system. In general, the law sees these young offenders as needing rehabilitation rather than punishment, which is the default in the adult system.
Because the needs of juvenile offenders are different from adults, the process involves investigations into what is best for the minor or a classification and placement process.
When a child enters the juvenile justice system, they will go through several processes to assess their needs. Some may require treatment or other services that the assessment will determine and placement services will provide. The general idea is to determine what is best for the child and what type of institution is suitable for his or her situation and crime. This requires looking over the offender’s history in the system and considering recommendations by professionals.
A large part of the process is determining where to put the juvenile. In some cases, they are best served by being outside of an institution. This could mean house arrest or in a treatment center instead of incarceration. There may also be times when the young offender requires more severe treatment, and those involved decide to transfer the case to the adult system. If this occurs, the minor leaves the juvenile system and moves to the adult system where he or she will go to jail with other adult offenders. This option is only available for those age 14 or older and requires a court order.
The juvenile system aims to help minors avoid reoffending by offering as much assistance as possible, which is at the heart of the classification and placement services.