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Juvenile Sentencing Reform

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In 1899, the first juvenile court was implemented in Cook County, Illinois. Since its inception, the juvenile justice system has experienced three waves of change. Each wave has been ushered in by changes in the beliefs regarding the philosophy of the system as well as how juveniles within the system should be treated. Broad changes to sentencing of juveniles has largely been isolated to the last two eras, the Get Tough Era and the Kids are Different Era. Sentencing reform in the Get Tough Era focused largely on increasing the punitiveness of sanctions; whereas reform in the current era has been largely focused on eliminating or limiting the imposition of the harshest sanctions on juvenile offenders. This chapter will focus on sentencing reform that has occurred within these two eras of juvenile justice and will conclude with a discussion of where juvenile justice may go from here.


  • Juvenile sentencing reform
  • Juvenile justice
  • Capital punishment for juveniles
  • Juvenile life without the possibility of parole
  • Blended sentencing: History of juvenile sentencing
  • Juveniles sentenced in adult court

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  • DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-77565-0_11
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  1. 1.

    It should be noted that while debate exists regarding whether the intent of legislatures implementing juvenile blended sentencing was to preserve the rehabilitative ideals of the juvenile court or increase the ability of juvenile courts to issue more punitive sanctions, little debate exists regarding the intent of criminal blended sentencing. The overall purpose of this legislation was to mitigate the effects of transfer laws in individual cases (Griffin, 2008).

  2. 2.

    In Teague v. Lane (1989), the Supreme Court developed a framework used to determine whether a new rule to a constitutional law applies retroactively to individuals who were convicted prior to the Court’s ruling. The Court held that new rules apply onto to those individuals whose cases have not yet been finalized. Thus, new rules would not apply to those cases on collateral review. One exception noted by the Court, however, was that “new substantive rules of criminal law—decisions that “narrow the scope of a criminal statute by interpreting its terms” or “that place particular conduct or persons covered by the statute beyond the State’s power to punish”—apply retroactively” (Zarrow & Milliken, 2015, p. 43). This first exception was what was considered in Montgomery.


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Correspondence to Riane M. Bolin .

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© 2022 The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG

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Bolin, R.M. (2022). Juvenile Sentencing Reform. In: Jeglic, E., Calkins, C. (eds) Handbook of Issues in Criminal Justice Reform in the United States. Springer, Cham.

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