The History of Juvenile Justice and Today's Juvenile Courts

Categories: Juvenile Justice

What I wanna talk about is the history throughout the years from how it all began to how it’s changed or what should start the same and be improved. that changes are needed if the juvenile justice system is to meet its aims of holding adolescents accountable, preventing reoffending, and treating them fairly.

Adolescence is a distinct period of development between childhood and adulthood characterized by experimentation and risk-taking, a tendency to discount long-term consequences, and sensitivity to peers and other social influences.

A key function of adolescence is developing an integrated sense of self, including individualization, separation from parents, and personal identity.

This all started during the progressive era which was from the span of 1900 and 1918. Child offenders over the age of seven were imprisoned with adults. During the 18th and 19th century began a shift in society’s view on juvenile delinquents. The early reformers were more interested in rehabilitating the punishing children built the New York House of Refuge in 1824, which housed juveniles who earlier would have been placed in adult jails.

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Then in the beginning of 1899, individual states took note of the problem of youth incarceration and began establishing youth reform houses all over.

During the early changes in the juvenile system were made under a newfound conviction that the society has a responsibility to recover the life of the young offenders before they become fully absorbed in that criminal activity. The juvenile justice system exercised its authority within a parent’s patriae role. By the 1960s, juvenile courts have jurisdiction over nearly all cases involving persons under the age of 18 and transfers into the adult criminal system through a waiver from the juvenile courts.

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The 14th Amendment required that all citizens of the United States receive equal protection under the law.

A 1967 decision by the Supreme Court affirmed the necessity of requiring juvenile courts to respect the due process of law rights of juveniles during their proceedings. The Supreme Court decision, delivered by Justice Abe Fortas, emphasized that youth had a right to receive fair treatment under the law and pointed out the following rights of minors:

Since the late 1990s, gun control laws have been debated, school safety programs have been enacted, juvenile offenders have been sent to adult prison, and anti-drug use crusades have been pushed. The juvenile justice system has been studied and adjusted in response to statistical alarms and specific successes. The system finds itself irresolute at present, faced with the discouraging prevalence of crime, a lack of funding for preventative programs, and disagreement over the principles that define its very foundation. Ideologically, and practically, America is grappling with a number of questions about juvenile justice

The consequences after proceedings for juveniles often relies more on integration with family, school and work, while parole for adults is generally restricted to surveillance and monitoring of behavior. This broad definition of rehabilitation gives judges and parole officers more discretion when sentencing juveniles.

A grasp of the current conflict surrounding the responsibility and direction of the juvenile justice system becomes more obtainable when one takes into consideration how the system has progressed since its inception. The juvenile justice system was created in the late 1800s to reform U.S. policies regarding youth offenders. Since that time, a number of reforms – aimed at both protecting the ‘due process of law’ rights of youth, and creating an aversion toward jail among the young – have made the juvenile justice system more comparable to the adult system, a shift from the United State’s original intent.

A few things that the Juvenile Justice System needs to change is the school to prison pipeline. There are policies/ structures within a school that increase juvenile arrest, which result in increased incarceration of youth. A Lot of children when they are younger make mistakes that can affect their lives and their record. Children don’t really know what they are truly doing because their brain isn’t fully developed.

Having a zero tolerance policy means that a school has zero tolerance for any kind of misbehavior or violation of school rules, no matter how minor, unintentional, or subjectively defined it may be. In a school with a zero tolerance policy, suspensions and expulsions are normal and common ways of dealing with student misbehavior. Students will start feeling like they are never going to have a normal life and that everything that they do will be held against their will like they are doing something bad all the time.

When they go to prison to do their time on whatever crime they did when they were younger. When they have probation after getting out of jail so that they can continue with school. It doesn’t help them because the probation officer is always checking up on them and looking at everything they do to see if they do anything wrong at any point. Another change is to reform efforts for helping the juvenile justice have focused on reducing the use of detention and secure confinement, improving conditions of confinement, closing large institutions and reinvesting in community-based programs.

“Many youth get in trouble for activities that are criminalized because they are under 18 and, therefore, the actions raise concerns among adults in their lives. These are commonly called “status offenses,” and they include truancy, running away, curfew violations, and underage liquor law violations.” ( This is the most common.

The Juvenile Justice System has provided various ways the offender can give back to the community through the means of day treatment programs, drug courts, and community services. The way the community can better prepare the absorptions of the juveniles are through tailor made programs such as mentoring programs, aftercare programs, various after school programs, drug and alcohol programs (if needed) and mental health (if needed). The juveniles’ mental health can be a big factor which can include the symptoms of depression, anxiety and aggression which are three to four times higher than the national rate.

These things can help better prepare and facilitate the reabsorption of the juvenile back into the community. This will both benefit the community and those certain individuals that need that help. The juvenile could have gone through something mentally, emotionally, and/or physically in their house, school, or even their own neighborhood. It can help those individuals to get better and to get back on track with the right help from their community.

A growing perspective in juvenile justice is that the juvenile has a positive atmosphere concentrating on a youth’s sense of competency, usefulness, belonging, and influence. Rather than the traditional highlighting an offender’s flaws and wrongdoings. By psychologist Terrie Moffitt states “that 17 is the highest crime-committing age in society. The combination of adolescent identity search, peer influence, peaking of testosterone levels, and an underdeveloped prefrontal cortex creates a perfect storm for delinquent behavior.”

About 200 studies between the 1950 and 1995 found that the most effective interventions for serious and violent juvenile offenders were interpersonal skills training, individual counseling, and behavioral programs. The challenges and unique issues the Juvenile justice system face in the 21st century includes improving the condition of confinement, air treatment for children of color, health care, security, children with mental health issues, reducing overcrowding, securing resources for programs that work. According to Barstools & Miller (2008), funding is a big challenge in the Juvenile Justice system, with limited funding the Juvenile Justice system faces many challenges that handicap social policy advances. The way that we can help the juvenile justice system with their funding is by also joining in with the community and helping the kids out by helping them jump back into the community, more educated in what’s the right and wrong thing to do. So they can continue back with their young lives and try to make the best that they can without making any drastics errors.

Recidivism, as measured by various levels of involvement with the justice system (e.g., rearrest, probation violations, reincarceration, etc.), is fairly high for youth under the age of 21. Based on studies of juveniles released from state incarceration, rearrest rates were substantially higher than other measures of recidivism. Solitary confinement can have devastating psychological effects on anyone, so inflicting it on children is clearly a serious issue. Among other issues, juveniles are 19 times more likely to commit suicide in isolation than in the general population.

There is a group called the Coalition for Juvenile Justice and allies that are dedicated to prevent children and youth from becoming involved in the courts and upholding the highest standard of care for those youth. By helping the 56 states that are under the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA). CJJ serves and supports SAGs that are principally responsible for monitoring and supporting their state’s progress in addressing the four core requirements of the JJDPA. Deinstitutionalizing status offenders, ensuring that youth are not detained or confined in any institution where they may have contact with adult inmates. This is known as sight and sound separation, removing youth from adult jails and lockups and reducing racial and ethnic disparities within the juvenile justice system.

The Juvenile court hearings are closed to members of the public and records in some states to keep their information usually keep the youth’s records confidential juvenile records have increasingly become more available which are not automatically expunged or sealed as they become an adult. This creates barriers to obtaining employment, serving in the military, or enrolling in higher education programs.

Youth offenders are categorized by the severity of their issues, including committed offenses, risk level to public safety and individual service requirements.

Youths are incarcerated or placed under close supervision, following the deficit-based model of incapacitation, deterrence and retribution, and rehabilitation. Rather than focusing on what is wrong, some communities’ programs have started focusing on what is right. By recognizing strengths and providing alternatives to criminal activities, many communities are finding ways to stop juvenile crime before it begins.

The Juvenile Justice has had alot of ups and downs throughout the years, they still try to make the system much more approved and better for the youth and for the community. The community has to understand that the Juveniles have an underdeveloped brain so they don’t really know what they are doing. Support children’s social and emotional development by providing parents and teachers with access to age-appropriate child development education. Such programs may also increase parental awareness of community resources that assist in meeting family needs.

The lives of our youth, and their health and wellbeing, are shaped and influenced by their environments. The History of Juvenile Justice has had its ups and downs but it’s always trying to find a way to get the youth and for the community to help them out in any way so there can be peace. From the School to prison pipeline to putting children in a adult holding facility

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The History of Juvenile Justice and Today's Juvenile Courts. (2020, Nov 17). Retrieved from

The History of Juvenile Justice and Today's Juvenile Courts

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