Past history does not present evidence of children receiving special treatment in the criminal judicial system. History dated back in 1899 states the treatments juvenile received in criminal cases. A twelve year old child charged with serious crimes was subjected for trials in adult courts and if found guilt of an offense, the child was sentenced and placed together with adult criminals. It is in this place where they were mixed with hard core adult criminals that children learnt more crafty ways of committing crimes instead of being rehabilitated. However juvenile crime became increasingly in the United States of America in 1980s when it was viewed that families had abandoned their responsibilities of shaping disciplined personalities and character in their children. An alternative form of institutional disciplinary action for delinquent children was sought and resulted to the establishment of first juvenile court in 1899 in Denver and Chicago (USADJ 2009).
Other states like Massachusetts placed juvenile delinquent cases under probation programs. However, these courts not only dealt with juvenile delinquents cases but also took custody of abandoned and neglected children. Contrary to criminal courts, juvenile courts were not tasked with determination of either guilt or innocence of a child but discover and identify the root causes of child’s misbehavior and reasons for engaging in delinquent activities. This was supposed to be followed by rehabilitation and treatment programs but not punishments. With lapse of time and increasing juvenile delinquent, all the States with exemption of two had operational juvenile courts with powerful but flexible judges to decide the best action for juvenile treatment a system which proved efficient. The operations of juvenile courts were at the discretion of the judge without any influence since the process excluded lawyers and lacked due process rights. The judge could talk with the child in presence of a probation officer to identify the cause of the problem and decide on the best action for the treatment and rehabilitation of the juvenile (Juvenile System 2009).
However, this process has been greatly criticized with the critics citing excessive powers of the judges leaving the child at discretionary mercies of the judges. With the current rising levels of juvenile delinquents, juvenile courts are being reformed to include punishment for serious juvenile offender with recommendations that they should be tried as adults. Lawyers have also seen their way in juvenile trials and many state juvenile courts have made the hearings public following these reforms. Other reformists have advocated for juvenile proceedings to be handled with due process and be accorded rights just like adult courts (USADJ 2005).
With the increasing high rates of juvenile delinquent, the whole society is affected with these crimes involving juveniles. Therefore it’s my opinion that juvenile proceedings should be made public for the interest of both society and the child. Making the process public will enhance accountability and transparent in the whole exercise when carried out as due process with presence of legal representative of the involved parties. These processes of public hearing of juvenile cases will also either directly or indirectly assist in reforming the juvenile’s behavior since the public will contribute to the process. When made public, the judge would not be at discretion to do whatever he or she pleases because accountability is enhanced and there is transparency. When the juvenile is brought under public care as a form of rehabilitation and treatment, it will be easier for and the process will be efficient and successful since the public are fully aware of the crime committed and they will devise ways and means to assist the juvenile. Furthermore, public hearings of juvenile trials discourage the victim from future repeat of the crime for fear of victimization.