Juvenile Justice System And The Prison System In Ethiopia And Venezuela

Ethiopia has a harsh prison system where they beat and torture their prisoners. According to the Association of Human Rights in Ethiopia, there have been many testimonies of torture and other inhuman and illegal treatments of prisoners in many undisclosed areas. Belayneh Alemneh, a 29-year-old resident of Amhara Regional State, has claimed that he was forced to spend his night on the floor without food. The next day, he was severely and consistently beaten for two consecutive days. They demanded that he falsely testify against Engineer Yilkal Getnet and Abebe Akalu, leaders of the Semayawi Party (a legally registered political party), alleging that they were linked with Ginbot 7. Once he was moved to another prison, he stated that the beatings worsened. He reported being hit with sticks and electrical wires. In the middle of the day, he would be summoned for interrogation, missing lunch. Other times, he was called around 9 p.m. and beaten until midnight, to the point where he was so weak that he couldn’t move on his own for three days. Another prisoner stated that he began suffering from diabetes, cholesterol, hemorrhoids, and kidney failure following his arrest. He believes that these severe health problems were due to the abuse and maltreatment he endured in prison. He stated that the officials concealed his medical records to deny early release. The father of the late Armaye Wako claimed that his son was beaten to death while in prison. His father stated, “When I went to visit him, his hands and face were swollen; he told me they were beating him.” When he went to visit his son, he was told that he was in the hospital for a stomach ache, but mere hours later, the family was informed that their son had passed away. Upon arrival at the hospital and inspection of the body, they noticed that his head was crushed and that his stomach was sliced open and stitched back, as if someone had removed his organs. Undoubtedly, Ethiopia’s prison system was far from friendly.

Venezuela’s prison system is not any better. In eastern Caracas, the Chacao district has cells made for 36 inmates who are supposed to stay for a maximum of three days until being released or transferred to a larger prison facility. However, the crisis in the Venezuelan judicial system forces those cells to instead hold over 150 prisoners, some of who have been there for months or years. Many prisoners develop red, lumpy rashes on their skin, which could be a sign of contagious scabies. Due to the medical crisis, most of the prisoners cannot receive treatments for these illnesses. They are also only allowed access to water for an hour once every day. Daniel Sayago, a 24-year-old prisoner, stated, “In these conditions, your mind deteriorates. You have to shut down parts of it to survive.” Daniel has been locked up for a year and four months, and his condition has continually worsened. The prison system in Venezuela was never very pleasing, but lately, the setting has become a lot worse due to a violent crime wave overwhelming the judicial system. The devastating number of murders and killings have caused larger facilities with a capacity of 20,000 to hold 52,000 inmates. Inside the cell, designed for 5,000 prisoners, is a population of 20,000 inmates. Ramon Muchacho, the mayor of Chacao, says that he wants to move the prisoners out of the lockup and into larger facilities, but the prison authorities won’t allow it.

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The Main Roles And Responsibilities Of The Juvenile Justice System

Originally, the juvenile court was thought of as a social service organization that dealt with protecting and solving the problems of children in trouble. The primary role of the juvenile court was not to establish guilt, but rather to rehabilitate youthful offenders by eliminating the problem causing the juvenile to engage in delinquent behavior. Emphasis was placed on rehabilitation, attention, and education, and these beliefs became the basis of what is known as the juvenile justice system. The juvenile justice system aims to keep citizens safe, rehabilitate delinquent youth, increase the competency of the juvenile offender, and mold them into law-abiding, tax-paying citizens. Meeting these responsibilities has been the goal of the system since it was first implemented.

However, the juvenile justice system had a dramatic change in the early 1990s. Serious juvenile crimes were on the rise at an alarming rate. Youth arrests under the age of 18 for murder and negligent homicide increased 92.7% (Bureau of Justice Statistics), from 1279 to 2465; robberies increased 12.1%, from 29892 to 33,510; aggravated assault increased by 71.7%, from 27,376 to 47,013. This led to a push for transforming the juvenile court to a criminal court. The past two decades have reversed the focus from rehabilitating juveniles to punishing juvenile delinquents. The juvenile justice system applies criminal law to persons not old enough to be held responsible for criminal acts. The age for criminal culpability is usually 18. The goal of the juvenile justice system is still to rehabilitate, but if juveniles commit serious enough crimes, they can be transferred into adult court if the juvenile court waives or relinquishes jurisdiction.

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The characteristics of the modern juvenile court have evolved over many decades. Legal reforms such as rulings of the U.S. Supreme Court (Kent v. United States 1966), and acts of Congress (the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act of 1974), and many other changes were inconsistently administered across the country. Beginning in the late 1960s through the mid-1980s, rulings of the Supreme Court defined for juveniles many of the same due process protections that adults had, including provisions for notice of the charges, cross-examination of witnesses, counsel, and the need to establish proof beyond a reasonable doubt. The Supreme Court also established that juveniles may be subject to penalties and other punishments associated with the adult system (e.g., preventive “pretrial detention, exposure to the death penalty) in certain cases. There was and still remains a significant difference in juvenile justice practices state by state. The reforms that have been introduced and the growing trend towards criminalizing juvenile offenders show the tension that exists in the debate, “incarcerate or rehabilitate”.

The Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act of 1974 helped establish some consistency throughout the country in dealing with juveniles in the justice system. This act highlighted the need for federally assisted juvenile justice programs, training for professionals who deal with juveniles and delinquents, and the development and encouragement of implementing national standards for the administration of juvenile justice. The act also assisted state and local governments in improving the administration of justice and services for juveniles who enter the system, and helped states and local communities prevent youth from entering the justice system to begin with.

The future of the juvenile justice system depends on several variables. The first and most important is a quick response to all juveniles, not just those that are incarcerated. We must identify and educate high-risk juveniles. Equally as important, we need to ensure that punishments are fair and representative of the crime committed by the juvenile offender. The courts must be more rigorous in holding parents accountable for their children’s actions. A parent, having firsthand knowledge of their child, should be able to identify a problem earlier than someone unfamiliar with the child’s behavior or certain indicative signs. The Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Act of 1974 was revised in 2002 – now the Juvenile Justice Delinquency Act of 2002. It addresses several issues and provides solutions to correct identified problems in the juvenile justice system. The Act meets the needs of society as well as the juvenile by introducing prevention programs that engage with juveniles and their families. Furthermore, it deals with programs that hold the juvenile accountable for their actions, fostering competency and encouraging them to become responsible, productive members of the community. Programs that aid juveniles and their families in taking responsibility offer a significant chance to help these young offenders. Such initiatives will significantly influence the future of the juvenile justice system in the United States.

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