Theory of Crime: Juvenile System

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Our juvenile justice system is they way it is today is because of the history and philosophy. Back in history the man had the authority in the family, as a child you were his property. And if they disobeyed their father or committed a crime they were corporally punished. Throughout history the juvenile justice system developed based off the laws from the British. According Hess, Orthmann and Wright (2013) “Juvenile justice in the United States is generally recognized as having progressed through five district stages, beginning with the first European settlers to land in the New World, whose philosophies defined and shaped what is now referred to as the Puritan Period” (34).

The Puritan period began in 1646 and ended in 1824. This period took place during the industrial revolution; therefor, this period was based from labor punishment. There were no laws saying you had to be seventeen or eighteen to work. Children began working at age seven or higher to help provide for their families.

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This period also had social control meaning if the parents didn’t fulfill their parental duties the workforce could step in and take the children away. After this period there was the Refuge Period that began in 1824. This period was based off of wealthy women known as child savers who. According to Hess, Orthmann and Wright (2013) “The Child Savers believed that children’s environment could make them “bad”. These wealthy women, civil-minded citizens tried to “save” unfortunate children by placing them in houses of refuge and reform schools.

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” (37).

During this period the house of refuge, reform schools and foster homes had begun. The first house of refuge was in New York City and it opened in 1824. The state could also intervene when they felt the parents weren’t educating their children. After the refuge period there was the Juvenile court period that began in 1899. This period was also known as the age of reform or the progressive era. This period was based off “when parents were unable to fulfill such responsibilities, reformers believed in state intervention” (Hess, Orthmann & Wright, 2013, 39). It was also known for the medical model which is a diagnosis of one’s delinquent acts and there can be treatments for their diagnosis. After this period there was the Juvenile Rights Period which began in 1960.

This period followed for concepts deinstitutionalization, discrimination, diversion and due process. This period was more about the protection of the youth. After this period there was the last period call the crime control period that began in 1980. This period was focused around the best interest of the juveniles. According to Hess et al.,(2013) “New York law authorized such pretrial or preventive detention of accused juvenile delinquents if there is a substantial probability that they will not appear in court on the return date or there is a serios risk that they may before the return date commit an act which if committed by an adult would constitute a crime” (p. 55).

In conclusion this chapter went over how our juvenile system became to be. This chapter went over each period (five distinct stages) that helped developed or juvenile justice system. It also went over important cases that happened such as In Re Gault, Kent vs. Us and Schall vs. Martin and preventive detention. It also went over the discipline deterrence and rehabilitation. The first house of refuge, the white house conference of children and youth, the due process of the fourteenth amendment and the social service functions. It broke the social service functions down and what they do and their purpose. Overall the history and philosophy of the juvenile justice system was discussed, broken down and explain in detail. Provides the cases, what happened in the cases and it provided some of the laws.


  • Hess, K., Orthmann, C., & Wright, J. (2013) Juvenile justice. Belmont, CA: Cengage Learning.

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Theory of Crime: Juvenile System. (2021, Oct 05). Retrieved from

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