Juvenile Justice and Delinquency

1700- Early 1800s:

Neglected and wayward children treated same as adult criminals or put in community asylums. Parental control absolute. See Massachusetts Stubborn Child Law.


Juvenile Violence Reaches All Time High


Child Saving movement begins. Development of Parens Patriae (“Parent of Country” as government control is extended over youthful offenses previously left to family’s control).


Pendulum to Law and Order Model: States decrease their age for waiver to adult court and the types of offenses that result in mandatory waiver resulting in large increases of youth being tried in adult court and sentenced to adult prisons.


Graham v. Florida: Terrence Graham was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole when he was 17 for armed home robber. The United States Supreme Court ruled that the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment prohibits a life sentence without the possibility of parole for juveniles who have not taken a life.


RECLAIM Ohio: Developed to encourage community-based sanctions. Highly successful at reducing Ohio’s juvenile incarceration and recidivism rates as Ohio Counties receive financial incentives to develop and maintain community approaches to delinquency. Ohio Juvenile Incarceration rates decrease from 2600 inmates in 1992 to 650 inmates in 2011.


Private House of Refuge opens in New York “protecting potential criminal youth by removing them from the street and away from damaging families."


Ex Parte Crouse: Established the state’s ability to act in the role of parent. Courts could remove neglected and delinquent youth from the home over objections of the families with little due process because it was believed that the child was not being punished but treated and protected.


Despite criticism regarding harsh conditions, private juvenile reformatories expand in Boston and New York. Most of the juvenile inmates are status offenders including those institutionalized for running away, vagrancy, alcohol consumption, school truancy, lewd language, smoking, and promiscuity.


Children’s Aid Society is formed to aid the nearly 30,000 homeless youth in New York.

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