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NCJ Number: 221010 Find in a Library
Title: Juvenile Justice: The Legacy of Punitive Policy
Journal: Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice  Volume:6  Issue:1  Dated:January 2008  Pages:28-46
Author(s): Peter J. Benekos; Alida V. Merlo
Date Published: January 2008
Page Count: 19
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article examines the current state of juvenile justice policy in the United States, focusing on whether there has been a softening in public attitudes toward young offenders and how these attitudes have influenced existing juvenile justice policies.
Abstract: In March 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that executing juveniles under the age of 18 constituted cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the eighth amendment (Roper v. Simmons, 2005). Death-row inmates who had been sentenced as juveniles typically received life sentences after this decision. Although the Supreme Court's reasoning in "Roper" provides rationale for more tolerant and therapeutic responses to juvenile offending, the legislative reforms at the end of the 20th century show a dualistic model for juvenile justice, i.e., a system that engages in prevention and intervention for some youth and punishment and exclusionary sanctions for others. Although the prevailing rhetoric of juvenile justice continues to emphasize the criminalization and punishment of youth under a regimen comparable to adult criminal case processing, it has not supplanted the juvenile court's original mission to intervene on behalf of juvenile offenders in accordance with their youthful development and rehabilitative needs. The "Roper" decision reaffirms the assumptions of juvenile justice that the diminished capacity and culpability of youth requires a degree of benevolence in measuring the accountability and punishment of juvenile offenders; however, the continuing possibility of the waiver of juvenile offenders to processing in adult criminal courts, the incarceration of juveniles in adult facilities, and the potential for juveniles to receive life in prison without the possibility of parole shows that the dual treatment of juvenile offenders persists. 63 references
Main Term(s): Juvenile justice policies
Index Term(s): Juvenile capital punishment; Juvenile court waiver; Juveniles in adult facilities; Life sentence without parole; US Supreme Court decisions
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