The police play a vital role in the juvenile justice system. Often, police officers are referred to as gatekeepers, as their discretionary abilities play an important role in deciding who will or will not be processed into the juvenile justice system.
Now, consider the following scenario:
You are a patrol police officer, and you have the following three encounters with three different youths on your shift:
Sandra Miller, a fifteen-year-old girl walking home from a party at 2 a.m.
Heather Goldberg, a sixteen-year-old girl spray-painting gang-related material on a freeway overpass
John Morris, a seventeen-year-old boy who robs a liquor store, shooting and killing the store owner in the process
On the basis of your research, create a response on police discretion and their work with juveniles. In addition, your response should provide answers to the following questions:
When considering your discretionary powers as a police officer, which case would you file as a formal petition to begin the process of the juvenile justice system? Why?
Which of the three cases would you handle informally? How would you handle this case and why?
Of the three cases, which is the most typical type of offense for a juvenile to be involved in? Provide a rationale for your response.
Should the police have discretionary powers when it comes to juvenile offenders? Why or why not?
What are some of the advantages and disadvantages when it comes to discretionary powers the police have when working with juvenile offenders?