Some of the dissonance between the federal agenda and what was happening in the states at that time may have been caused by significant changes in legal procedures that made juvenile court processes more similar—though not identical—to those in criminal (adult) court.
The main response to the most recent spike in violent juvenile crime has been enactment of laws that further blur distinctions between juvenile courts and adult courts.
Crime policies in the United States have been moving in the direction of treating juveniles as adults, even though many young people continue to grow up in settings that “fail to provide the resources, the supports, and the opportunities essential to a healthy development and reasonable preparation for productive adulthood” (National Research Council, 1993a:2)—settings that put young people at high risk for delinquency.
In 1997, 40 percent of all those living below the poverty level in the United States were under the age of 18 (Snyder and Sickmund, 1999).
This paper will discuss the history of the juvenile justice system and how it has come to be what it is today.
When a juvenile offender commits a crime and is sentenced to jail or reform school, the offender goes to a separate jail or reforming place than an adult. Until the early 1800’s juveniles were tried just like everyone else. This paper will explain the reforms that have taken place within the criminal justice system that developed the juvenile justice system.
Arrests of those younger than 10 years old account for less than 2 percent of all juvenile arrests.
By the age of 16 or 17, most adolescents are deemed to have sufficient cognitive capacity and life experience to be held accountable for intended wrongful acts.
The rehabilitative model embodied in the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act of 1974, focusing on the needs of the young offender, has lost ever more ground over the past 20 years to punitive models that focus mainly on the offense committed.
These puni- tive policies have had a disproportionate impact on some minority groups, particularly black youngsters, an important issue that is explored in depth in Chapter 6.