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History of Juvenile Justice

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Essay title: History of Juvenile Justice

Until the 19th century, children were punished and confined in the same ways as adults. Early jails housed men, women, adults, juveniles, sane and insane all together.

Houses of Refuge

In the early 1800's reformers became concerned about the overcrowded conditions in the jails and the corruption youth experienced when confined with adult felons. The first House of Refuge opened in New York in 1825, as a facility exclusively for children. By the 1840's, 53 more were built around the country.

Houses of Refuge were not limited to children who had committed crimes. They were also homes for poor children, orphans, or any child thought to be incorrigible or wayward. The average number of children in any given House was 200, but some, like the New York House of Refuge, housed over 1,000 youth at any given time.

Training or Industrial Schools

In response to overcrowding, deplorable conditions, and reports of brutality in the Houses of Refuge, training schools were developed in the mid-nineteenth century. Massachusetts opened the first state-operated training school for boys in 1847 and for girls in 1856. Training Schools placed a larger emphasis on schooling and vocational training.

Many of the new facilities were built outside cities. According to contemporary thinking, the city was the source of temptation and a rural setting would offer a more virtuous and simpler way of life.

Training schools are still the models of juvenile incarceration today. While the 20th century brought some changes, like the evolution of individualized diagnosis and treatment, new kinds of rehabilitative therapy, and improved educational programming, the congregate model of concentrating large number of juvenile offenders in one institution has remained.

History of the Juvenile Court

Until the late 19th century, children were tried in criminal courts along with adults. Movement for juvenile justice reform was informed by the 16th century educational reform movement in England that perceived children to be different than miniature adults, with less than fully developed moral and cognitive capacities.

As early as 1825, the Society for the Prevention of Juvenile Delinquency and other reform organizations were advocating for a separate court system for youth.

In 1899, the first juvenile court was finally established in Cook County, Illinois, and by 1925, all but two states had followed suit. Again, borrowing from the British thinking, the doctrine parens patriae (the State as Parent) was the underpinning of the newly established right for the state to intervene and to provide protection for children whose parents did not provide adequate care or supervision, such as in the case of juvenile delinquency. The primary motive of the juvenile court was to provide rehabilitation and benevolent supervision for the child.

There were significant differences in the juvenile and criminal court systems. The focus of the juvenile court was on the offender, not on the offense and on rehabilitation, not punishment. All crimes by individuals under the age of eighteen were adjudicated in a juvenile court, with rare exceptions (decided upon a case by case basis) when a waiver could transfer a youth to adult court.

The juvenile court, with its rehabilitative mission, could be much more flexible and informal than the criminal court. Due process protections, an attorney for the state and the youth were deemed unnecessary. A range of dispositional options that were related to the child's situation, and not only to the crime, was available to a judge.

In the 1950's and 60's public concern grew about the effectiveness of the juvenile justice system, not because of the rehabilitative philosophy, but because of its perceived lack of effectiveness and the number of juveniles who were detained indefinitely.

In the 1960's, the Supreme Court made a series of decisions that formalized the juvenile courts and made them more like criminal courts. Formal hearings were required in situations where juveniles were waived to adult courts, juvenile facing confinement were required to be given the right to receive notice of charges held against them, and the right to have an attorney represent them. "Proof beyond a reasonable doubt" had to be established, instead of just "a preponderance of evidence" for an adjudication.

Landmark cases:

Kent vs. United States, 383 U.S. 541 1966

Kent v. United States (383 U.S. 541, 1966), where a minor's waiver from the jurisdiction of a juvenile court to that of an adult court was reviewed. This case involved sixteen-year-old

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