Joining the U.S. military may be a tradition in your New Jersey family or a goal of your teenager. Having the opportunity to serve the country and perhaps earn the ability to pay for a college education could be alluring to both you and your teen. The problem is that seemingly harmless teenage transgressions such as shoplifting could cause problems during the enlistment process.
The United States Supreme Court decided in January to expand a ban on mandatory life without parole for over 2000 under-aged offenders who were already serving these sentences. This decision has affected those convicted of a juvenile crime in New Jersey and many other states by causing lawyers to look at these cases differently. Now, the logic of this decision is prompting courts to look differently at other cases as well.
One county's police department recently reported a large number of juveniles who were taken into custody. According to the report, 101 underage people were arrested in New Jersey on underage drinking and drug charges, along with several adults. The suspects were residents of several different states.
The governor of New Jersey recently made an announcement about legislation that will make it easier for those who have been in prison before to get a job. The bipartisan deal is a set of three bills designed to improve the chances that a former New Jersey inmates can get criminal and juvenile charges expunged from their records. These bills will strengthen the "ban the box" legislation from three years ago.
Chronic absenteeism has become a serious issue in several schools within the state. In fact, 10 schools in New Jersey have a truancy rate of 25 percent, with five of them having rates as high as 40 percent or more. The number of students who regularly miss class is not only up in high schools but in elementary schools as well.
Two boys have been charged with arson after a New Jersey playground was destroyed by fire. The fire at Wales Park in Linden was allegedly set by two young boys who will be charged with a juvenile crime. The kids are 11 and 13 years old and are facing charges of criminal mischief and arson.
In a recent poll, it was discovered that most state residents are not in favor of incarceration or punishment for underage criminals. In fact, as much as 85 percent of the population of New Jersey prefers some kind of prevention or rehabilitation for those found responsible for a juvenile crime. While most agree that a child should be held accountable for his or her actions, the severity of such accountability is in question.
A few changes have been made to the way the state handles bail for underage offenders. New Jersey recently chose to allow a computer-generated risk assessment to be used when a judge is deciding bail. This assessment does not use juvenile crime records. While ordering a new detention hearing for one of the state's sex offenders, a panel of three judges was one of the first to use the new system in its decision. After this decision brought about the release of a sex offender, some feel that the new system brings with it a whole new set of issues.
If a young person gets off track and in trouble with the law, it is important that he or she is held accountable. But that accountability should be within reason. Juveniles are not the same as adults. They have not reached mental and emotional maturity, and as such, when meting out penalties to juveniles, it is best that emphasis is placed on helping them become better citizens. And to this end, incarceration often does just the opposite.
When a juvenile commits a serious criminal act, he or she should face some measure of consequences. However, often in such cases, juveniles have been handed sentences that keep them behind bars until they grow very old or even die. This course of legal action is typically not appropriate in most circumstances; at least that is what the New Jersey Supreme Court believes according to a recent ruling.