It’s when a child is charged with committing a crime that our justice system as a whole must pause and really ask itself if its doing the right thing for the future—the juvenile’s future, society’s future, and even the justice system’s future. It’s in these moments that our system has a unique opportunity to help rehabilitate, and in some cases, reunite the juvenile with his or her family. The justice system sits in an exclusive position to not only influence the life of the juvenile, but the lives of those whom he or she will affect moving forward. It goes without saying that helping, rather than hurting, the juvenile will have an exponential ripple effect on today’s society as well as tomorrow’s. We must hold our justice system to the task of protecting our juveniles and their futures.
The juvenile court system has a precious opportunity to avoid tying a child to a conviction that could drag them down for the rest of their lives. A conviction on their record clearly could hurt our youths’ educational opportunities, job prospects, career choices, family, and just about any aspiration they may have or ever will have. A conviction is the anchor that could drag them down.
If we have a chance to obtain a diversion resolution in order to divert a conviction from happening in the first place, then that’s the goal. It is important to put the proper support system in the lives of our youth in order to nurture their best chance at having productive and fruitful lives. It is equally important, if not more important, to see to it that they are never charged in adult court in which case our youths would face adult sentences. The prosecution has the option to charge a juvenile in adult court if between the ages of 14 and 17. Steve Garcia has the knowledge and skill to ensure the juvenile justice system lives up to its mission of “treatment and rehabilitation as well as protection of the community and youth.”