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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 77333 Find in a Library
Title: Courts as Social Service Agencies - An Idea Carried to Its Illogical Extension (From Major Issues in Juvenile Justice Information and Training - Readings in Public Policy, P 475-490, 1981, John C Hall et al, ed. See NCJ-77318)
Author(s): J D Foster
Date Published: 1981
Page Count: 16
Sponsoring Agency: Academy for Contemporary Problems
Sale Source: Academy for Contemporary Problems
United States of America
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This paper argues that the introduction of service programming as an administrative function of the juvenile court was an illogical extension of the original idea behind the establishment of this unique court.
Abstract: Although the juvenile court was founded on the philosophy that the State has a responsibility to nurture and care for its juvenile citizens whenever they are found neglected, abused, or in need of services which they cannot obtain themselves, this concept does not require that courts take the responsibility for servicing these needs. From an early emphasis on judicial functions, the court gradually changed its focus to the medical model and an emphasis on determining what could be done to help the child. Courts gradually began to pattern their services after those of social service agencies. The adjudicatory process became simply the action required of the judge to legitimize the treatment which the staff determined was appropriate for a child. Courts then moved to becoming providers of service, not just adjudicators. The Gault and Kent decisions have resulted in a dramatic transformation of the courts, and movements to remove both status offenders and serious criminal offenders are further changing the juvenile courts. Removing the administration of nonlegal services should be viewed not as an assault on the court but as a positive step to restore the integrity of the juvenile court as a meaningful instrument of justice for children. The court should replace its current intake function with an appropriate judicial review of the merits of a petition or affidavit filed against a child. It should give the administration of detention or other residential facilities to an appropriate executive agency and should divest itself of all correctional services. Although the court must ensure that government action does not violate individual rights, its direct provision of services produces an unavoidable and undesirable conflict of interest and is an inappropriate solution to the problem of inadequate services for children. Although many people are satisfied with the present system, it should be changed in order to clarify the roles and enhance the accountability and performance of our public institutions. Footnotes are provided.
Index Term(s): Conflict of interest; Court management; Juvenile courts; Juvenile processing; Parens patriae; Social service agencies
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