The first juvenile court in the United States was established in Chicago in 1899, 100 years ago. In the long his- tory of law and justice, juvenile jus- tice is a relatively new development. The juvenile justice system has weathered significant modifications in the past 30 years, resulting from Supreme Court decisions, Federal legislation, and changes in State leg- islation.
Perceptions of a juvenile crime epi- demic in the early 1990’s fueled pub- lic scrutiny of the system’s ability to effectively control violent juvenile offenders. As a result, States have adopted numerous legislative changes in an effort to crack down on juvenile crime. While some dif- ferences between the criminal and juvenile justice system have dimin- ished in recent years, the juvenile justice system remains unique, guided by its own philosophy and legislation and implemented by its own sets of agencies.
This chapter describes the juvenile justice system, focusing on struc- ture and process features that relate to delinquency and status offense matters. (The chapter on victims discusses the handling of child mal- treatment matters.) Sections in this chapter provide an overview of the history of juvenile justice in this country and present the significant Supreme Court decisions that have shaped the modern juvenile justice system. In addition, the chapter de- scribes the juvenile justice system’s case processing and compares and contrasts the juvenile and adult sys- tems. This chapter also sum- marizes changes made by States with regard to the system’s jurisdic- tional authority, sentencing, correc- tions programming, confidentiality of records and court hearings, and victim involvement in court hear- ings. Much of the information was drawn from National Center for Ju- venile Justice analyses of juvenile codes in each State.
Juvenile Offenders and Victims: 1999 National Report
Chapter 4: Juvenile justice system structure and process
The juvenile justice system was founded on the...