The Contemporary Mandate

  • Thomas Bearrows
  • Jeffrey Bleich
  • Michael Oshima

Abstract

History has brought society to reconsider its responsibilities to children who are at risk or creating risks. The debate is carried on within separate policy domains concerned with welfare, education, youth employment, drug abuse, and so on. An important part of the debate concerns the basic purposes and authority of the juvenile court and the associated juvenile justice system. These institutions might seem relatively significant compared with such social behemoths as the welfare system, the public schools, or statutes regulating child labor and minimum wages. After all, millions of Americans interact with the larger institutions, while only a tiny fraction of the nation’s children and families appear before the juvenile court.1 Yet, three observations establish the key importance of the juvenile justice system.

Keywords

Transportation Helium Coherence Assure Expense 

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Notes

  1. 1.
    The juvenile courts in the United States handled approximately 1,465,000 eases of delinquency, status offenses, and abuse/neglect in 1982. In contrast, there were about 63,963,000 children under the age of 18 in 1982. Ellen H. Nimick, Howard N. Snyder, Dennis P. Sullivan, and Nancy J. Tierney, Juvenile Court Statistics, 1982 (Pittsburgh: National Center for Juvenile Justice, 1984), pp. 8Google Scholar
  2. 1.
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    This is the standard of justice proposed by John Rawls. See John Rawls, A Theory of Justice (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1971).Google Scholar
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    This point was emphasized repeatedly by the members of the Executive Session who served as judges, probation officers, or corrections administrators. (See Preface to this volume.)Google Scholar
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    Rosemary Sarri and Yeheskel Hasenfeld, Eds., Brought to Justice? Juveniles, the Courts and the Law (Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 1976).Google Scholar
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    For a powerful exposition of this perspective see Charles E. Silberman, Criminal Violence, Criminal Justice (New York: Random House, 1978), chap. 9.Google Scholar
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    Sanford J. Fox argued that an analysis of the history of juvenile justice reform suggests that such “reform is a complex and highly ambivalent affair in which the goal of child welfare has been but one of many motivational elements” (p. 1188). Sanford J. Fox, “Juvenile justice reform: An historical perspective,” Stanford Law Review 22(6) (June 1970), pp. 1187–1239.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    We are indebted to Jeffrey Bleich for emphasizing this point and carrying out the relevant research. See Jeffrey Bleich, “An analysis of juvenile justice statutes: Philosophies and trends,” unpublished mimeo, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, 1986.Google Scholar
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    The maximum age jurisdiction for delinquency varies for the juvenile courts of various states. Six states provide jurisdiction up to age 16 [CT, NY, NC, VT, OK (boys), NE (minor offenses)], eight states provide jurisdiction up to age 17 (GA, IL, LA, MA, MI, MO, SC, TX), one state’s maximum jurisdictional age is 19 (WY), and the remainder provide jurisdiction up to age 18. Letter from Ben Koller, Director of Juvenile Justice Reform at the American Legislative Exchange Council, dated Dec. 3, 1985.Google Scholar
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    In reaching this conclusion we are relying heavily on the views of Franklin E. Zimring and Martha Minow.Google Scholar
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    This analysis is developed in Mark H. Moore, “Purblind justice: Normative issues in the use of prediction in the criminal justice system,” in Alfred Blumstein, Jacqueline Cohen, Jeffrey A. Roth, and Christy A. Visher, Eds., Criminal Careers and “Career Criminals”, Vol. 2 (Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 1986), pp. 314–355.Google Scholar
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    These views were expressed repeatedly and eloquently by Barbara Flicker and Janet Fink during our meetings. (See Preface to this volume.)Google Scholar
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    This is clearly Zimring’s view of the priority to be given to competing objectives (Zimring, The Changing Legal World of Adolescence, pp. 91–92). “Above almost all else we seek a legal policy that preserves the life chances for those who make serious mistakes, as well as preserving choices for their more fortunate (and more virtuous) contemporaries.”Google Scholar
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    New York State is an extreme case; it provides automatic shift of serious juvenile offenders to adult court. The adult court may “remove” the case to family court. McKinney’s Consolidated Laws of New York Annotated, Criminal Procedure Law, Sec. 725.Google Scholar
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas Bearrows
  • Jeffrey Bleich
  • Michael Oshima

There are no affiliations available

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