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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 77319 Find in a Library
Title: Crime and the Child (From Major Issues in Juvenile Justice Information and Training - Readings in Public Policy, P 179-192, 1981, John C Hall et al, ed. - See NCJ-77318)
Author(s): J P Conrad
Date Published: 1981
Page Count: 14
Sponsoring Agency: Academy for Contemporary Problems
Sale Source: Academy for Contemporary Problems
United States of America
Type: Historical Overview
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This examination of the history of the definition of childhood and the evolution of the juvenile justice system concludes that the current system's problems require efforts to find more effective dispositions for youths.
Abstract: The rise of the institution of education for the aristocracy during the Renaissance and for the lower classes during the Industrial Revolution resulted in the definition of childhood as a state of unreadiness. As schooling became a prerequisite for entering the mainstream of an increasingly complex society, the end of childhood became correlated with the age at which children left school. The legal system accepted this definition and the juvenile justice system was formed to deal with youths who, in earlier times, would have been treated like adults. In contrast to 19th century views of juvenile delinquency as an unbroken continuum, recent trends have narrowed the jurisdiction of juvenile courts. The removal of status offenders from juvenile courts and the handling of serious offenders in adult court through waiver of juvenile court jurisdiction have narrowed jurisdiction at both ends of the spectrum of delinquency. Although concepts of due process have gradually become more important in juvenile court, only youths tried in adult court are assured of due process. Nevertheless, the removal of status offenses has meant that the juvenile court is simply a criminal court specializing in the trial of young people accused of committing crimes. Although the continued existence of juvenile courts has been justified on the grounds that they provide appropriate services to youths in trouble, these services have not necessarily been provided effectively or at all. A complete overhaul of the system is needed. The emphasis on due process should continue, and reasonable and effective dispositions should be found for all children in trouble. Protracted institutional control is an appropriate disposition for only a few young people. Continuation of a system that provides only punishment but no exit from trouble will maintain the current situation in which too many delinquent youths become adult criminals. Footnotes are provided.
Index Term(s): Critiques; History of juvenile justice; Juvenile adjudication; Juvenile court jurisdiction; Juvenile court waiver; Juvenile justice reform; Rights of minors
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