Due to the under-representation of females, public officials have paid less attention to understanding their offending or to developing and assessing prevention and intervention strategies for them. Attention to female offenders is now considered important because their numbers are growing in all spheres of criminal justice. This article explains what is currently known about girls and their juvenile justice experiences. It discusses the difficulty that exists in identifying gender bias because of the nature of juvenile justice processing. It then describes data sources about the offending patterns of girls and boys and examines how gender appears to affect juvenile justice processing. Following this, the article identifies difficulties for girls in access to treatment and services. It highlights deficiencies in knowledge about female-specific treatment. Finally, it gives recommendations for an integrated framework to assist in learning more about the problems girls face and ways to make their experiences with juvenile justice systems successful.
David S. Tanenhaus
This article traces the ideological origins and legal foundations of the juvenile court. It examines juvenile courts at work in the early twentieth century, their guiding principles, and the later development of federal juvenile justice in the 1930s. It also assesses the U.S. Supreme Court's due process revolution that introduced more procedural requirements as well as lawyers into juvenile court during the 1960s, but simultaneously undercut one of the rationales (i.e., “the rehabilitative ideal”) for having a separate justice system for juveniles. It further focuses on the “get tough” era of the 1980s and 1990s, a time when most states made it easier to prosecute adolescents in the criminal justice system. Finally, it gives a brief discussion of future of the juvenile court. Despite jurisdictional changes, procedural reforms, and the erosion of the rehabilitative ideal, the juvenile court remains a flawed but resilient fixture in modern American governance.
Daniel P. Mears
This article is focused on front-end processing in the juvenile court. The front end of juvenile justice refers to initial court decisions about how to process cases. The article discusses how the traditional mission of the juvenile court, which emphasizes punishment, treatment and services, and individualized attention, contributes to the goals and structure of front-end decision-making. Following this, it reveals two critical front-end activities: screening and assessment and informal and formal processing encompassing the roles of intake officers and prosecutors in these activities and how they comport with the juvenile court's traditional mission. Furthermore, it explores the stakes involved in front-end decision-making, including the potential impacts on how cases are processed and describes the implications of front-end processing for policy and practice. It concludes with a call for better monitoring of and research on front-end juvenile court processing and its impacts on recidivism, juvenile crime rates, and other outcomes.
Barry C. Feld
This article examines the “law on the books” and the “law in action” in juvenile courts. It analyzes developmental psychological research on juveniles' competence to exercise rights. It also examines the impact of juveniles' limited competence to exercise and waive their right to counsel. Juveniles' developmental limitations adversely affect the delivery of legal services in juvenile courts and increase the risks of erroneous adjudications. Youths' diminished competence and the absence of counsel compounds the risks of erroneous convictions. It then studies the Court's rationale to deny juveniles a constitutional right to a jury trial and analyzes why that makes it easier to convict delinquents than criminals and how the subsequent use of delinquency convictions to enhance criminal sentences compounds that procedural disparity. Finally, the article concludes that most states do not provide delinquents with procedural safeguards that provide formal or functional protections comparable to those of adult criminal defendants.
Barry C. Feld and Donna M. Bishop
Transfer of juvenile offenders for adult prosecution provides the nexus between the deterministic, rehabilitative premises of juvenile justice and the free-will, punishment assumptions of criminal justice. This article analyzes the history, implementation, and consequences of changes in transfer laws over the past few decades. It places transfer decisions in a broader sentencing policy context, examining alternative transfer strategies, and reviews evaluations of their implementation. It also explores legislative approaches and the characteristics of youths transferred under each regime. Furthermore, it considers the sentencing policy goals of transfer and assays to what extent transfers of jurisdiction achieve goals of retribution, general deterrence, incapacitation, specific deterrence, or the recognition of youths' diminished criminal responsibility. Finally, the article presents a prescriptive conclusion about appropriate waiver policies for juvenile courts, suggesting a review of judges' waiver decisions by appellate courts and develop general sentencing principles to define a consistent boundary of adulthood.
Varieties of Juvenile Court: Nonspecialized Courts, Teen Courts, Drug Courts, and Mental Health Courts
Jeffrey A. Butts, John K. Roman, and Jennifer Lynn‐Whaley
A juvenile court is a type of specialized court or a court docket devoted to one or more specific categories of legal matter. Today, there are many specialized courts. This article addresses the growing use of specialized, problem solving courts for delinquent juveniles. It introduces the specialized nature of the juvenile court and describes three of the most popular forms of specialized courts for youths, which are, teen courts, juvenile drug courts, and juvenile or family mental health courts. It examines several key policy and practice issues related to their operation. It also discusses the origin of each type of specialized court, giving data such as their numbers, types of legal matters handled by them, procedures of processing the case, and what is known about their effectiveness.