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NCJ Number: 69813 Find in a Library
Title: Juvenile Noncriminal Misbehavior and Equal Protection
Journal: Family Law Quarterly  Volume:13  Issue:4  Dated:(Winter 1980)  Pages:461-503
Author(s): R D Marks
Date Published: 1980
Page Count: 43
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: U.S. courts' treatment of juveniles involved in noncriminal misbehavior is critically examined with respect to the 14th amendment's equal protection clause.
Abstract: The Supreme Court's decision in the 1972 Walker case illustrated four issues: (1) the anomalous link of the protection purpose and the punishment effect of the Person in Need of Supervision (PINS) classification; (2) the court's uncritical acceptance of differences between adults and children; (3) court's deference to State juvenile authorities; and (4) the State's heavy role in enforcing family discipline. Courts' PINS jurisdiction can produce deprivation of liberty, injury to reputation, and loss of privacy and decisionmaking power. Moreover, it denies family autonomy and the child's right to liberty within the family. Although children are different from adults in most situations, the Supreme Court's criteria for suspect classifications indicate that an age-based classification discriminating against those under 16 should be considered suspect. In addition, parents' alignment with the State in most PINS cases further justifies courts' strict scrutiny regarding equal protection. Moreover the State's justification for discrimination against juveniles in PINS cases is not compelling. Gunther has proposed a modification of the traditional two-tier system for determining equal protection. Justice Marshall has proposed a sliding scale system which would promote flexibility by considering the classification, the right affected, and the State's justification for discrimination. Policy considerations reinforce the constitutional conclusion against PINS. It is concluded that the law should let the family retain its status and power over children except where a real possibility of harm exists. Footnotes are included.
Index Term(s): Critiques; Domestic relations; Equal Protection; Judicial decisions; Jurisdiction; Juvenile status offenders; Juvenile status offenses; Rights of the accused; Status offense decriminalization
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