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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 82221 Find in a Library
Title: Abolishing the Juvenile Court
Journal: Harvard Law School Bulletin  Volume:28  Issue:3  Dated:(1977)  Pages:22-27
Author(s): S J Fox
Date Published: 1977
Page Count: 6
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article explains why, in light of the Standards of Juvenile Justice recently completed by the American Bar Assocation and the Institute of Judicial Administration, the juvenile court system is outdated and should be abolished.
Abstract: While the roots of the juvenile court's troubles can be traced back to the 19th century, post-World War II reforms have also threatened the system. On the adult side, procedural reform under Supreme Court pressures was outscored by the American Law Institute's Model Penal Code which tried to bring uniformity and professional accountability to the chaotic state of criminal sentencing law. The Code suggested that various classes of penalties be severely limited and that every crime in the law be slotted into one of these classes. On the juvenile side, reformers concentrated on providing children with procedural rights and substantially narrowed the gap between juvenile court proceedings and a criminal trial. Sentencing law reforms brought about by the Code remained outside the juvenile courts since these concepts were incompatible with the court's individual treatment philosophy. The best examples of reform are found in Maine and California where new sentencing laws have no operative concepts of prediction or rehabilitation. The Standards of Juvenile Justice propose abolishing status offenses that do not violate criminal laws as a protest against the severity and duration of coercion that has been used against status offenders. The abolition proposal also views the justice system as too clumsy and inept to provide social services needed by status offenders. The standards advocate a legislatively graded system of dispositions tied to the seriousness of the offense and propose five classes of juvenile offenses. Studies show that 70 percent of all juvenile cases are dismissed by the judge or are screened out by court staff and that nearly 6 out of 10 juvenile court cases present no danger to the community. Many alternative models for minor offenders exist, such as the Scottish system of children's hearings and the Neighborhood Justice Centers. The article contains 18 footnotes.
Index Term(s): Court reform; Juvenile courts
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