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Juvenile Delinquency
Wayne State University Law School
Pinilis, William

Juvenile Delinquency Class 1
The Progressive Movement
·         Hall house –Jane Adams – founder of social work in Chicago- first juvenile court in Chicago – rational scientific analysis would yield proper diagnosis and cure for societal ills
·         Believe that benevolent government intervention could change the lives of poor people, poor children, and poor immigrant/non mainstream children
·         Emphasized need for:
o        Structure, professional intervention
o        Address social problems that arose from urbanization of society.
·         Benevolent government could intervene to solve social/economical problems.
·         Spawned the idea of adolescence as separate subgroup
·         Started establishing children’s bureaus to work on reducing infant mortality, efforts to deal with child labor laws, establish compulsory education, urban playgrounds, invention of the juvenile courts.
·         Rehabilitative ideal
o        Founded on the belief that juvenile delinquency was result of poor parenting and poor urban environment – if gov. intervened children could be guided to business.
·         First juvenile courts had no lawyers
o        Court acted with parent patriae power, government could override parents.
·         Children afforded treatment rather than punishment.
·         Adjudication, disposition instead of trial/sentence
·         Rejected criminal law and procedure
·         envisioned court where specialized judges, often not lawyers
·         Judge Julian Mack – “He must be more than just a lawyer…” “friendly interest of the state”
o        How could you be denied due process when the state was there to look out for you?
·         Outgrowth of “best interest” of the child, don’t need to worry about lawyers, due process – we are there to work on child’s lifestyle (crime is almost secondary).               
o        Led to disproportionate sentences; subjective
o        Denial of due process
o        Gave courts power to treat all childhood infractions the same (still very much true)
·         Status offenders – children who commit things that they can’t do as children that we can as adults. Offenses you can only commit as children, can’t commit as adults.
o        Want to reform behavior; don’t want them to be truant
o        Direct outgrowth of progressive movement.
·         Sentences have disproportionate impact based upon race, ethnicity, and poverty.
o        Since there are no guidelines, abused.
·         Early courts – provided very little due process, main focus on rehabilitation, not punishment.
·         Commonwealth v. Fisher: first real case to attack juvenile courts. Problems:
o        Creating a whole new court in violation of state constitution (court said no, it’s not a new court, just a gentler court).
o        No due process of law: Court said it is not a violation of due process to save a child. Just removing to improve behavior.
o        No trial by jury in court: It’s not a trial, it’s an adjudication and child is being saved. Overriding state interest in virtue of members. Society owes protection to helpful members.
o        Pre-Gault: juvenile courts didn’t have protection of adult courts or care/treatment that was being proposed to children.
·         Issues or race provided crucial link to changes of juvenile court
·         Juvenile court reforms are a direct outgrowth of civil rights movement.
o        Growing consensus that progressive ideology wasn’t working.
o        Particularly for minority urban poor.
·         Criminal justice reforms – part of larger reforms brought about by civil rights movement.
·         A year before In Re Gault: Kent v. U.S. – involved juvenile waiver. Before

anscript of the trial record, and (6) right to appellate review. (Senna, 1999, p. 579)
·         The U.S. Supreme Court found against the previous Arizona court rulings and determined that juveniles were entitled to due process under the 14th amendment. The court opinion held that, “neither the Fourteenth Amendment nor the Bill of Rights is for adults alone
·          This decision is critical for the application of juvenile justice in this country. From this point forward due process rights and privileges afforded to adults now must be extended to people under 18 as well.
·         RULE: established that under the Fourteenth Amendment, juveniles accused of crimes in a delinquency proceeding must be accorded many of the same due process rights as adults such as the right to timely notification of charges, the right to confront witnesses, the right against self-incrimination, and the right to counsel. The court’s opinion was written by Justice Abe Fortas, a noted proponent of children’s rights.
·         Court in Gault still recognized juvenile’s were different, stopped short of saying juvenile court is like adult courts. Wanted to put procedure on it but not alter basic purpose of the court.
·         Gault made juvenile court a court of law, fashioned juvenile procedure into something more akin to criminal procedure counterparts.
Children would be treated more like adults: led to waiver, automatic waiver, extendable offenses, juvenile sentencing guidelines in some states.