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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 77401 Find in a Library
Title: Theoretical Perspectives for Historical Analyses - A Selective Review of the Juvenile Justice Literature
Journal: Criminology  Volume:19  Issue:1  Dated:(May 1981)  Pages:115-129
Author(s): A W Pisciotta
Date Published: 1981
Page Count: 15
Type: Historical Overview
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: The study focuses upon outlining the assumptions and methodology underlying three theoretical perspectives about the juvenile justice system which have been consciously or unconsciously adopted by a majority of historical researchers: the march of progress, social context, and conflict perspectives.
Abstract: Proponents of the first theory believe that the purpose of the juvenile justice system has been to provide delinquent and dependent children with humane care while protecting society from youthful offenders. The fact that children coming into contact with juvenile justice have generally been poor, of immigrant parentage, or black has not been perceived as an indication of any inherent problem with the economic order. Hence, reformers and administrators have been portrayed as humanitarians who alleviate the plight of unfortunate children. Conflict theorists have rejected these progressive interpretations. Instead, they claim that the introducton of the doctrine of parens patriae into the legal structure and other 'humanitarian reforms' are forms of social control initiated by members of the upper classes to repress the threatening lower classes. According to the social context perspective, the influence of the system is neither as benevolent as humanitarians claim, nor is it completely a repressive form of social control. To learn from the past, historical researchers must identify their a priori assumptions, methodology, and theoretical perspective. Practitioners, students, and professors should scrutinize historical works to make certain that the criminal justice historian's assumptions are consistent. Otherwise new additions to the historical research will not result in an increase in knowledge, and it will remain unclear whether the juvenile court and reformatory, as well as other aspects of the system, are a source of salvation, a form of repressive social control, or merely misguided benevolence. Relevant literature, notes, and about 20 references are included.
Index Term(s): Behavioral and Social Sciences; History of juvenile justice; Juvenile justice system; Literature reviews
Note: Earlier draft of the article was presented at the meeting of the Academy of Criminal Justice Science, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, March 1980.
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