The System


The System

A black and white grainy photo of dark-haired girl in a holding pen. She wears a white t-shirt and dark pants and sits on a bench with her legs crossed, resting one arm next to her on, the other falling at her side.  “Sheila Pasene: Night Investigations Unit” is imprinted at the bottom of the photo.
Sheila waits at the police station after getting arrested.

Social workers, attorneys and other advocates agree that there is no such thing as a typical path through the juvenile justice system. Judges, parole officers and police officers all have some say regarding whether a minor, 18 or under, will get off with a warning, enter a program or serve time. These decisions are based on a list of factors including—but not limited to—the girl’s family situation, past record, the seriousness of the offense and the services available in a county or state.

Although no two journeys through the juvenile system are exactly the same, there are common stops along the way from arrest to sentencing.

Use a flowchart of the U.S. juvenile justice system to trace 16-year-old Jane Doe’s hypothetical path >>

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