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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter July 11, 2013

American juvenile justice system: history in the making

  • Aaron Meng EMAIL logo , Roland Segal and Eric Boden


The original theory behind separating juvenile offenders from adult offenders was to provide care and direction for youngsters instead of isolation and punishment. This idea took hold in the 19th century and became mainstream by the early 20th century. In the 1950s and 1960s, public concern grew because of a perceived lack of effectiveness and lack of rights. The Supreme Court made a series of rulings solidifying juvenile rights including the right to receive notice of charges, the right to have an attorney and the right to have charges proven beyond a reasonable doubt. In the 1980s, the public view was that the juvenile court system was too lenient and that juvenile crimes were on the rise. In the 1990s, many states passed punitive laws, including mandatory sentencing and blanket transfers to adult courts for certain crimes. As a result, the pendulum is now swinging back toward the middle from rehabilitation toward punishment.

Corresponding author: Aaron Meng, MD, PO Box 31820, Phoenix, AZ 85046, USA


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Received: 2012-8-26
Accepted: 2012-10-4
Published Online: 2013-07-11
Published in Print: 2013-09-01

©2013 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin Boston

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