How to decode the juvenile justice system of america

Pre[ edit ] Juvenile delinquency punishments trace back to the Middle Ages when crimes were severely punished by the Church. Throughout the 17th and 18th centuries, few legal differences existed between children and adults. In court, children as young as seven were treated as adults and could receive the death penalty. Barry Krisberg and James F.

How to decode the juvenile justice system of america

Since the s, youth crime rates have plummeted. These falling crime rates have led many jurisdictions to rethink the punitive juvenile justice practices that became popular in the s and s.

Today, states are instituting major systemic reforms designed to reduce institutional confinement, close old 19th century era reform schools, and expand community-based interventions.

How to decode the juvenile justice system of america

Houses of Refuge In the late 18th and early 19th century, courts punished and confined youth in jails and penitentiaries. Since few other options existed, youth of all ages and genders were often indiscriminately confined with hardened adult criminals and the mentally ill in large overcrowded and decrepit penal institutions.

Many of these youth were confined for noncriminal behavior simply because there were no other options.

At the same time, American cities were confronting high rates of child poverty and neglect putting pressure on city leaders to fashion a solution to this emerging social issue. In response, pioneering penal reformers Thomas Eddy and John Griscom, organized the Society for the Prevention of Pauperism, to oppose housing youth in adult jails and prisons and urge the creation of a new type of institution.

Their work led to the establishment of the New York House of Refuge inthe first institution designed to house poor, destitute and vagrant youth who were deemed by authorities to be on the path towards delinquency.

The New York House of Refuge became the first movement in what was to later become the juvenile justice system. With three years of its opening, similar institutions were opened in Boston and Philadelphia.

By the s, approximately 25 more facilities were constructed throughout the country. Houses of Refuge were large fortress-like congregate style institution located in urban areas for youth designated as abandoned, delinquent or incorrigible. The average number of youth in a house of refuge wasbut some, like the New York House of Refuge, housed over 1, youth.

Unfortunately, Houses of Refuge quickly confronted the same issues that plagued adult jail and prisons — overcrowding, deteriorating conditions, and staff abuse. In addition, with the emerging public school movement and compulsory education, social reformers began arguing for a new type of institution that placed greater emphasis on education.

Today, reform schools are typically called youth correctional institutions and continue to follow a classic congregate institutional model - concentrating large number of youth in highly regimented, penitentiary-like institutions.

Throughout its turbulent year history, the Industrial School was the subject of frequent scandals stemming from physical abuse to managerial incompetence. Watch this film featuring Daniel Macallair, to learn more. Juvenile Court Until the late 19th century, criminal courts tried youth and adults.


The 16th century educational reform movement in England that perceived youth to be different from adults, with less than fully developed moral and cognitive capacities, fueled the movement for juvenile justice reform in America. By the middle 19th century, following the creation of houses of refuge, new innovations such as cottage institutions, out-of-home placement, and probation were introduced.

These new approaches were typically the result of enterprising social reformers who sought new and better ways to address the problem of wayward youth. This collection of institutions and programs were finally brought together with the creation of the juvenile court.

First established in in Cook County, Illinois and then rapidly spread across the country, the juvenile court became the unifying entity that led to a juvenile justice system. Founded on the ancient legal of doctrine parens patriae the State as Parent which declared the King to be the guardian of all his subjects, the new court assumed the right to intervene on behalf of youth deemed to be in need of help based on their life circumstances or their delinquent acts.

The primary motive of the juvenile court was to provide rehabilitation and protective supervision for youth.The American juvenile justice system is the primary system used to handle youth who are convicted of criminal offenses. The juvenile justice system intervenes in delinquent behavior through police, court, and correctional involvement, with the goal of rehabilitation.

May 09,  · Learn more about the juvenile justice process. 1 States, however, have the right to set lower age thresholds for processing youth through the adult system. In addition, some states automatically process any individual, regardless of age, through the adult criminal justice system for some serious offenses.

“The deeper you go into the system, the larger the disparity gets,” said Angelo Pinto, campaign manager for the Correctional Association of New York’s juvenile-justice project. Once a child is arrested, access to education may be limited or nonexistent, depending on the detention center.

And as the sole juvenile justice expert speaking before the House Oversight Committee (HOC) on Wednesday, she’ll only have five minutes to convince members of Congress that the system is in dire need of reform. HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT OF THE JUVENILE COURT AND JUSTICE PROCESS SECTION HIGHLIGHTS he American juvenile justice system has developed over the past century with a Section I History and Development of the Juvenile Court and Justice Process delinquent, the juvenile-system equivalent of a guilty conviction.

In 24% of adjudicated delinquency cases, the youth was placed in a residential facility. Youth placed on formal probation represent 64% of juveniles who were adjudicated delinquent.

History of the Juvenile Justice System - Impact Law