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League Unveils JJ Position
Position in Brief
The purposes of the police, courts, and corrections components of the juvenile justice system are to protect society, and to rehabilitate the juvenile law violator. Rehabilitation will sometimes include punishment. Punishment applied to juveniles should be humane, seek to avoid criminalization, promote the juvenile's potential for responsible behavior in relation to family and community, and be applied equally regardless of race, religion, sex, economic or social status. Successful rehabilitation of an individual is a form of prevention, since the rehabilitated individual will not commit crimes in the future. There should be periodic review of dispositions to be sure that treatment is being provided, that it is still necessary, and that there is continuity between agencies.
Ancillary components of the juvenile justice system -- schools, social service agencies -- must bear the responsibility of being effective in alleviating these youths' problems so that crime is likely to be prevented.
The LWV emphasizes the great responsibility of the school system to meet the learning needs of all children. From our Family Court observation program, the most significant problems for most of the children appearing before the court were school related, such as high absenteeism, low level of skills, and deep-seeded frustration and hostility toward school. Children are required to attend school until the age of eighteen and the schools must accommodate themselves to the wide variety of children they serve. They must act to solve problems that they see quite early in their students and must assure that basic skills are taught. To these ends, the LWV supports alternate teaching methods and programs, effective monitoring of attendance, implementation of the DOE developed guidance program which suggests techniques for teachers and principals to use in dealing effectively with youngsters at different age levels. We also support provisions for adequate counseling services in the schools.
The League supports the concept of the Family Court and its premise that society should take the opportunity to guide youth while they are still malleable and not stigmatize youth with criminal labels. Thus, we would separate the very young from the adult system and, at the same time, take pains to treat the problems of these youths. The LWV supports harsher sanctions for older youth who continue to break the law, especially in ways physically harmful to other people.
The LWV supports consistency in the full juvenile justice system, while still retaining the ability of the Family Court to consider the age, level of maturity, and individual problems of each child. Both society and the law violator should know what to expect from the juvenile justice system.
Police, probation officers, corrections officers, and judges should operate under general guidelines designed to give equitable treatment to all youth and to give consistent treatment to the single youth who encounters different people in the juvenile justice system. The principal of consistency requires good record-keeping, communication, and follow-up between all agencies dealing with a youth -- including schools and social service agencies as well as police, courts, and corrections. Whatever consequences a youth must face, the consequences must be administered swiftly and surely. It is unreasonable to claim to be teaching responsibility to a young person while reacting to his offense in a ponderous or inconsistent manner.
Sentencing should be generally proportionate to the crime. There should be distinctions between those who commit violent crimes, repeat offenders, and other children who appear before the court.
The LWV supports a waiver procedure, based on written guidelines, and only for sixteen and seventeen year olds. This means, we oppose automatic waiver and support the Kent guidelines, which require the judge to consider the following factors:
The LWV supports the provision of an adequate variety and number of services in the community to rehabilitate offenders and assist children whose behavior suggest problems that might lead to crimes.
We expect increasingly serious consequences for the youth that does not respond to treatment. Hand in hand with that expectation must be a wide range of appropriate services to treat the youth, since, of course, he cannot respond to treatment that does not exist. Hawaii currently has an insufficient supply of services; the League's first priorities include support of the simultaneous development of such services and the immediate conversion of the Hawaii Youth Correctional Facility (Ko'olau) from a holding place into a treatment program.
Ko'olau does not meet minimum standards for a secure facility. We are particularly concerned about the inadequacy of educational and social services.
The secure facilities for those juveniles requiring incarceration should meet these minimum standards:
A. Assure the Rights of Youth, including:
B. Assure the Quality of Rehabilitation Programs, including:
C. Assure the Effectiveness of the Facilities' Staff, including:
D. Assure that Hardcore Juvenile Offenders are Not Locked Up With Other Youths
In addition to the statewide League consensus, the Kauai League has arrived at a position that would support the use of a Kauai juvenile counselor for status offenders. The Hawaii County League has arrived at a position to support a secure facility on the island of Hawaii; this would eliminate the practice of sending youths from Hawaii to Ko'olau (Oahu) for lock up.
|Fall 1980||Home Newsletters||Fall 1981|