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NCJ Number: 99490 Find in a Library
Title: Delinquency and Social Policy - A Historical Perspective (From Juvenile Delinquency - A Justice Perspective, P 5-15, 1985, Ralph A Weisheit and Robert G Culbertson, eds. - See NCJ-99489)
Author(s): P Lerman
Date Published: 1985
Page Count: 11
Sponsoring Agency: Waveland Press, Inc.
Long Grove, IL 60047
Sale Source: Waveland Press, Inc.
4180 IL Route 83
Suite 101
Long Grove, IL 60047
United States of America
Type: Historical Overview
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This historical analysis of the American approach to delinquency concludes that the problem is compounded by broad laws operating under arbitrary discretionary standards; these laws fail to distinguish between problems related to poverty, welfare, and dependency and those related to crime.
Abstract: From the founding of the Plymouth Bay Colony, American definitions of delinquency have always included reasons other than criminal behaviors for legally punishing or incarcerating youth. By the Civil War, a juvenile classified as a proper object of reformation by the justice system could be covered by statutes stemming from three sources: American adaptations of Elizabethan poor laws, Puritan-inspired definitions of offenses peculiar to childhood and the apprenticeship status, and State adaptations of common law criminal offenses. Overall, the 19th century reformatory performed the social functions of a juvenile almshouse, a workhouse, and a house of corrections. With the creation of the first juvenile court in Chicago at the turn of the century, States began to codify existing statutes, but still made sure that the juvenile court's jurisdiction was very broad. Until the early 1960's, no State explicitly acknowledged any legal or correctional difference between status offenders and criminal offenders. Even though many States now have status offender laws, recent evidence indicates that status offenders are more likely than delinquents to be detained and are detained longer. In trying to separate youth from workhouses and criminal adults, reformers created new forms of broad social control over youth. While correctional leaders assert they have moved progressively from a policy of restraint to one of rehabilitation, statistics on juvenile detention suggest that short-term restraint remains the dominant public policy toward youth. A total of 22 footnotes are included.
Index Term(s): Criminal justice system policy; Custody vs treatment conflict; History of juvenile justice; Juvenile justice reform; Status offense decriminalization
Note: Reprinted from Crime and Delinquency, V 23, N 4 (October 1977), P 383-393.
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