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NCJ Number: 207013 Find in a Library
Title: Juvenile Crime, Adult Adjudication, and the Death Penalty: Draconian Policies Revisited
Journal: Justice Policy Journal  Volume:1  Issue:2  Dated:Spring 2003  Pages:3-22
Author(s): Randall G. Shelden; Michelle Hussong
Date Published: 2003
Page Count: 22
Document: PDF
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: After presenting a historical overview of juvenile justice policies in the United States, this paper develops the argument that recent juvenile justice policies are throwbacks to an earlier era of punitive policies toward juveniles that stem from "moral panics."
Abstract: A "moral panic" has been defined as "a condition, episode, person, or group of persons that emerges to become defined as a threat to societal values and interests." Over the last few decades, the criminal justice system in general and the juvenile justice system in particular have been influenced by a moral panic in the public and among legislators that views juveniles, particularly minority juveniles, as the primary source of violent crime in the United States. This has fostered a "get tough" movement that has issued in the waiver of increasing numbers of juveniles to adult courts and then, if convicted, to sentences served in adult prisons. Further, of 38 States that authorize the death penalty for certain forms of homicide, 4 have authorized executions for offenders as young as 17 years old, and 20 of these States can execute 16 year-olds. Approximately 1 in every 50 individuals on death row is a juvenile offender. According to the United Nations (1998), the U.S. policy on executing juvenile offenders violates international laws and treaties signed or ratified by the United States. This paper places the punitive trends toward juveniles, notably minority juveniles, in the context of a country that is experiencing a growing economic inequality between the very rich and the poor, with the latter being composed of a disproportionate percentage of racial minorities. Recent moral panics have deflected concern away from these structural problems in the American economy and onto the most disadvantaged, particularly juveniles. 72 references
Main Term(s): Juvenile justice policies
Index Term(s): History of juvenile justice; Juvenile capital punishment; Juvenile court waiver
Note: Downloaded September 24, 2004.
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