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Revolution in Juvenile Justice - From Rhetoric to Rhetoric (From Future of Childhood and Juvenile Justice, P 66-111, 1979, LaMar T Empey, ed. - See NCJ-72579)

NCJ Number
J G Miller
Date Published
46 pages
Historic reforms in the American juvenile justice system are traced and critiqued, and an outline for a future juvenile justice system is presented.
Although the establishment of the juvenile court in 1899 was heralded as a significant breakthrough in helping juvenile deviants become socialized under the supportive guidance and treatment of the juvenile justice system, the ambivalence about whether to treat or punish norm violators and criminal offenders persisted. Juveniles eventually received the worst of both worlds: no due process followed by punishment labeled treatment. The growth of professionalism in the treatment of juveniles produced a bureaucratic need to show treatment effectiveness. Mild juvenile deviants who would probably have outgrown their deviance have been diverted from the court and treatment through community services, while serious deviants, who are most in need of help, have most often been institutionalized without adequate treatment. The treatment actually afforded juveniles has thus never approached the goals envisaged. The current disillusionment with treatment programs and the emphasis upon providing a just and fixed punishment on the basis of the severity of an offense will probably tip the scales further toward punishment of juvenile offenders as the primary means of social control. What is needed in the future is a system of dialogue between juvenile clients and juvenile justice personnel, which will not only provided the professionals insight into the juvenile's world, but also provide opportunity for the juvenile to give input for the handling of his/her situation. A range of alternatives appropriate to the client, based upon diagnosed needs, should be presented from which the client can choose. Least restrictive alternatives should have priority, with movement into more restrictive alternatives in stages under due process provisions. Approximately 45 references are provided.


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