Until the 19th century, children were punished and confined in the same ways as adults. Early jails housed adult men and women, juveniles, sane and insane all together.
In the early 1800’s reformers became concerned about the overcrowded conditions in the jails and the corruption youth experienced when confined with adult felons. The first House of Refuge opened in New York on January 1, 1825, as a facility exclusively for children. (Roffe) By the 1840’s, 53 more were built around the country. Houses of Refuge were not limited to children who had committed crimes. They were also homes for poor children, orphans, or any child thought to be incorrigible or wayward. The average number of children in any given house was 200, but some, like the New York House of Refuge, housed over 1,000 youths at any given time.
In response to overcrowding, deplorable conditions, and reports of brutality in the Houses of Refuge, training schools were developed in the mid-nineteenth century. Massachusetts opened the first state-operated training school for boys in 1847 and for girls in 1856. (Roffe) Training Schools placed a larger emphasis on schooling and vocational training. Many of the new facilities were built outside cities. According to contemporary thinking, the city was the source of temptation and a rural setting would offer a more virtuous and simpler way of life. Training schools are still the models of juvenile incarceration today. While the 20th century brought some changes, like the evolution of individualized diagnosis and treatment, new kinds of rehabilitative therapy, and improved educational programming, the congregate model of concentrating large number of juvenile offenders in one institution has remained.
Until the late 19th century, children were tried in criminal courts along with adults. Movement for juvenile justice reform was informed by the 16th century educational reform movement in England that perceived children to be different than miniature adults, with less than fully developed moral and cognitive capacities.
As early as 1825, the Society for the Prevention of Juvenile Delinquency and other reform organizations were advocating for a separate court system for youth. (Frontline)
In 1899, the first juvenile court was finally established in Cook County, Illinois, and by 1925, all but two states had followed suit. (Frontline, Roffe) Again, borrowing from the British thinking, the doctrine Parens Patriae (the State as Parent) was the underpinning of the newly established right for the state to intervene and to provide protection for children whose parents did not provide adequate care or supervision, such as in the case of juvenile delinquency. The primary motive of the juvenile court was to provide rehabilitation and benevolent supervision for the child.
There were significant differences in the juvenile and criminal court systems. The focus of the juvenile court was on the offender, not on the offense or rehabilitation. All crimes by individuals under the age of eighteen were adjudicated in a juvenile court, with rare exceptions (decided upon a case by case basis) when a waiver could transfer a youth to adult court.
The juvenile court, with its rehabilitative mission, could be much more flexible and informal than the criminal court. Due process protections, an attorney for the state and the youth were deemed unnecessary. A range of dispositional options that were related to the child’s situation, and not only to the crime, was available to a judge. One of the big problems in juvenile justice is how long it takes to get an arrested juvenile tried and adjudicated as a delinquent. Only after they have been adjudicated, can they technically be placed in “rehabilitation” programs. Obviously this kind of delay exacerbates the problem of delivering psychological services in a timely fashion. Juveniles who are still in detention status can only receive substance abuse treatment, sex education, remedial education, and crisis intervention services. (Roberts)
Some of the programs that are currently being used are Probation, Scared Straight Programs, Community Treatment, and Institutionalization. Probation is the most frequently employed sentencing option. Each year approximately 70% of the juveniles adjudicated delinquent by the juvenile justice system courts are sentenced to probation. (Connor) Scared-Straight Programs are when juveniles are taken to state prisons for intensive confrontation sessions with adult inmates serving long term or life sentences. Using there own experiences as examples. Inmates told juveniles of the harsh realities of imprisonment. The purpose was to scare the juvenile straight. Community-based treatment programs for probationers stand midway between the loose supervision of routine probation and the secure custody characteristic of most correctional facilities for juvenile offenders. Community based programs typically provide more extensive assistance and stricter enforcement of the conditions of probation. Institutionalizing juveniles to public or private correctional facilities has been used to rehabilitate the young offender. Correctional facilities routinely offer academic and vocational instruction in hope that better-educated and vocationally skilled inmates will be less dependent upon release. Most institutions also supplement these routine efforts with special programs, such as alcohol and other drug counseling. There are also short-term facilities (detention centers), as well as shelters, reception and diagnostic centers. Long-term facilities include training schools, ranches, forestry camps, boot camps, farms, halfway houses, and group homes. (Connor) In addition, there are numerous private institutions and a number of psychiatric hospitals and treatment centers. The correctional landscape of juvenile justice is quite different from the correctional system in the adult world.
There are approximately 7 different models of treatment for juvenile offenders. Not all of them are as successful as can be expected, but treatment programs for juveniles tend to take on a life of their own. The models only represent programs which have found some acceptance, usage, or recognition in forensic psychology. Group home models – group homes are the most common type of semi-secure or insecure facility, and their existence is justified on the principle that the least restrictive alternative should be used, unless facts warrant otherwise. Multi-systemic models – “multi-systemic” is a loosely used term for approaches based on the family systems theory, which in short, implies that the best approach is one which ignores the offender, and joins him or her in blaming their family, their peer group, their school, and their neighborhood. Substance abuse models – these are generally relapse prevention programs that are delivered on an inpatient (avg. stay 6 months) or outpatient (twice weekly) basis where “community” meetings are held and clients set goals for themselves. Boot camp models – these are faddish government programs, most popular from 1987-1997 which attempt to instill military-style discipline, respect for authority, and boost self-esteem. There have been highly publicized abuses and most research indicates a negative impact on recidivism and self-efficacy. Wilderness and adventure models – these are (usually private) programs which take status offenders and non-delinquents, “cherry-picked” delinquents and a few delinquents given a “last chance” before going to a more secure facility. Besides the outdoor challenges programs typically represent a de-emphasis on traditional classroom models of learning. Violence “unlearning” models – The most common approach here is Aggression Replacement Therapy which attempts to replace whatever status rewards the offender has received for being “bad” with rewards for pro-social behavior, like learning how to ask permission, having a conversation, giving a compliment, etc. Sex offender treatment models – although a few prisons may use pharmacological approaches to suppress libido (never under age 16 though), the most common programs involve peer groups which either focus on relapse prevention, social assertiveness skills, or the confrontation of thinking errors. (Siegel, Welsh & Senna)
It should be noted that diverse mixtures of components of various models can be found, and sometimes such mixtures or admixtures are called “multimodal” programs, especially when the components being mixed involve individual treatment, peer group treatment, and an attempt at applying some sort of family systems theory. Since the most common family systems theory is called “multi-systemic,” it is not uncommon to see juvenile correctional psychologists champion the cause of “multi-modal and multi-systemic approaches to treatment” which may very well qualify as the fanciest buzzwords in all of criminal justice. (Siegel, et. al)
During the 1940’s and 1950’s reformers worked hard to improve the conditions found in most juvenile institutions. Probation camps emerged providing a structured setting for juveniles as an alternative to incarceration. Extensive use of probation was also another alternative to incarceration. The vast majority were coming to question the ability of the juvenile courts system in succeeding, or even making visible or tangible progress in the rehabilitation process. (Roffe)
In the 1950’s and 60’s public concern grew about the effectiveness of the juvenile justice system, not because of the rehabilitative philosophy, but because of its perceived lack of effectiveness and the number of juveniles who were detained indefinitely. In 1967, it was recommended that alternatives to the incarceration of juveniles be developed. The Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act passed in 1974, provided funding to communities from federal grants that encouraged these alternatives to incarceration, creating more foster care, group homes and formal diversion programs. (Roffe)
In the 1960’s, the Supreme Court made a series of decisions that formalized the juvenile courts and made them more like criminal courts. Formal hearings were required in situations where juveniles were waived to adult courts, juvenile facing confinement were required to be given the right to receive notice of charges held against them, and the right to have an attorney represent them. “Proof beyond a reasonable doubt” had to be established, instead of just “a preponderance of evidence” for adjudication. (Roffe)
During the 1970’s, supervision and electronic monitoring were also introduced. By the 1980’s the public perceived serious juvenile crime increasing and the system was failing due to its lenient attitude in the juvenile courts. Laws were passed making the 1980’s a transitional period that led the juvenile justice system away from its original philosophy of rehabilitation, focusing now on punishment and the safety of the public. Juvenile crime had increased, faith in treatment was on a downward spiral, the courts were becoming more and more inept to realistically address and remedy social ills and political ideology rushing towards conservative trends caused a distinct change in the policies surrounding juvenile criminals. (Roffe)
By the 1990’s legislation enacted by many states held juvenile offenders that were violent, serious, or repeat offenders, accountable for their actions. Five areas of change concentrated on by state legislature included: sentencing, transfer provisions, confidentiality, victim’s rights, and correctional programming. As a result of the many changes made by legislation, more secure facilities were built and more adequate solutions for rehabilitation were developed. (Roffe)
Kent vs. United States, 383 U.S. 541 1966
This case involved sixteen-year-old Morris Kent who, in September 1961, raped a woman and stole her wallet. The juvenile court judge waived Kent to the jurisdiction of an adult court, but without a hearing, without having talked with Kent’s lawyer, and without having released a copy of the information contained in Kent’s social service file, upon which the waiver decision was partly based. Kent was convicted and sentenced in adult court to a term of thirty to ninety years in prison. On appeal, the case came before the Supreme Court in 1966. The Court reversed the conviction, holding that the District of Columbia Juvenile Court Act’s waiver provisions were invalid. The ruling specified that prior to being waived to an adult court a juvenile had a right to (1) a hearing on the move, (2) access to social service reports, and (3) a statement of reasons for the waiver. In the decision the Court stated that a juvenile gets the worst of both worlds: neither the protection of the Constitution adults take for granted, nor the care and treatment promised by the juvenile court. (Frontline)
In Re Gault, 387 U.S. 1 (1967)
The juvenile court system was revolutionized in 1967, with this Supreme Court’s landmark case. In the Gault case, the Supreme Court found that the juvenile court, in spite of its best intentions, had not been adequately meeting the needs of children. The Court ruled that, under the Constitution, children in delinquency cases are entitled to due process rights. These include the right to a court-appointed lawyer, the right to be notified of the charges against them, the right to examine and cross-examine witnesses, and the privileges against self-incrimination. The Gault decision was a clear departure from the former view of the juvenile court as a benevolent system where judges had unlimited discretion to tend to children’s needs. Since Gault was decided, all juvenile court actions (not only delinquency cases) have become more procedurally technical. The rights of children and parents have continued to be expanded and redefined, both by judges’ decisions and by new laws. (Siegel, et. al)
In Re Winship397 U.S. 358, 90 S.Ct. 1068 (1970)
Samuel Winship, age 12, was charged with stealing $112 from a woman’s purse in a store. A store employee claimed to have seen Winship running from the scene just before the woman noticed the money was missing; others in the store stated that the employee was not in a position to see the money being taken. Winship was adjudicated delinquent and committed to a training school. New York juvenile courts operated under the civil court standard of a “preponderance of evidence.” The court agreed with Winship’s attorney that there was “reasonable doubt” of Winship’s guilt, but based its ruling on the “preponderance” of evidence. Upon appeal to the Supreme Court, the central issue in the case was whether “proof beyond a reasonable doubt” should be considered among the “essentials of due process and fair treatment” required during the adjudicatory stage of the juvenile court process. The Court rejected lower court arguments that juvenile courts were not required to operate on the same standards as adult courts because juvenile courts were designed to “save” rather than to “punish” children. The Court ruled that the “reasonable doubt” standard should be required in all delinquency adjudications. (Frontline)
McKeiver v. Pennsylvania 403 U.S. 528, 91 S.Ct. 1976 (1971)
Joseph McKeiver, age 16, was charged with robbery, larceny, and receiving stolen goods. He and 20 to 30 other youth allegedly chased 3 youth and took 25 cents from them. McKeiver met with his attorney for only a few minutes before his adjudicatory hearing. At the hearing, his attorney’s request for a jury trial was denied by the court. He was subsequently adjudicated and placed on probation. The State Supreme Court cited recent decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court that had attempted to include more due process in juvenile court proceedings without eroding the essential benefits of the juvenile court. The State Supreme Court affirmed the lower court, arguing that of all due process rights, trial by jury is most likely to “destroy the traditional character of juvenile proceedings.” The U.S. Supreme Court found that the due process clause of the 14th amendment did not require jury trials in juvenile court. The impact of the Court’s Gault and Winship decisions was to enhance the accuracy of the juvenile court process in the fact-finding stage. In McKeiver, the Court argued that juries are not known to be more accurate than judges in the adjudication stage and could be disruptive to the informal atmosphere of the juvenile court, tending to make it more adversarial. (Siegel, et. al)
On March 1, 2005, marking a landmark decision for human rights, the United States Supreme Court abolished the death penalty for juvenile offenders. Relying on the opinions of international and domestic human rights groups – including an amicus brief by Human Rights Watch – the Court found that the death penalty was unconstitutionally cruel for people who were under the age of eighteen at the time of their crimes. Prior to the decision, the United States was one of only six countries in the world that allowed the juvenile death penalty. By a vote of 5-4, the U.S. Supreme Court on March 1, 2005 held that the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments forbid the execution of offenders who were under the age of 18 when their crimes were committed. (Richey) Justice Kennedy, writing for the majority stated:
“When a juvenile offender commits a heinous crime, the State can exact forfeiture of some of the most basic liberties, but the State cannot extinguish his life and his potential to attain a mature understanding of his own humanity.”
The Court reaffirmed the necessity of referring to “the evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society” to determine which punishments are so disproportionate as to be cruel and unusual. The Court reasoned that the rejection of the juvenile death penalty in the majority of states, the infrequent use of the punishment even where it remains on the books and the consistent trend toward abolition of the juvenile death penalty demonstrated a national consensus against the practice. The Court determined that today our society views juveniles as categorically less culpable than the average criminal. (Richey)
In recent years a great deal of interest has been placed on delinquent behavior and the causes that contribute to it. Media blames music, movies, games, and videos. T.V., Radio, Movies and Video games all reveal forms of violence, sex, drugs and crime. The more there is, the more it sells. A large majority of our youth form opinions and are influenced by the media. The Media encourages different ways and means to trigger violence among youth.
Media is such a broad topic that I chose to narrow down to what I felt were the most influence on today’s youth; television and video games. Things that wouldn’t be your number one guess on where your child is learning things, but are two of the highest concerns society has for its children.
We can see violence in almost all the media in today’s society, but does it really affect the way kids think? Video games look more real life and violent than ever. Over the holiday season this year, children age seven and up will be asking for the hottest video games of the year. The top five video games include violence, sex, nudity and the use of foul language. The top five most requested video games of 2007 are- Halo 3, Bio-Shock, Call of Duty 4, Assassin’s Creed, and Resident Evil. (Kwan) The Grand Theft Auto series is ranked the worst games of them all. These games are the most gory, graphic, and mature to ever come out. In the Grand Theft Auto game, the character steals cars, kills cops, picks up prostitutes and has sex with them, beats up pedestrians on the street and commits robbery. The rating is A for adult meaning that the game is not meant for anyone under the age of 18. If you go back ten years ago you will see a difference in the games that were played by children. The top five games wanted ten years ago were Star Wars, Diddy Kong Racing, Madden ’98, World Series Baseball ’98, and Tetris. (Rubenstein) These games were all rated lower than T for Teen because the games are not graphic. These are nothing like the games of today were you shoot something or someone and it shows everything that would happen in actual life. Statistics show on the ESRB website that 90 percent of children who play a violent video game are more likely to get into a fight then that of those who do not play the video games.
Violence has always played a major role in entertainment in our society. However, in recent years there has been more, leading to higher violence crime rates. There is now solid evidence to suggest a relationship between exposure to violent television and movies and aggressive behavior. Researchers have found that children are more physically and verbally aggressive immediately after watching violent television shows than their less aggressive peers. A few studies have found that exposure to television and movie violence in childhood is related to increased aggression years later, but further research is needed in this area. (AACAP)
In 1995, a small community in the Willamette Valley passed an ordinance which held parents responsible in just this way. The ordinance, No. 94-132 that was adopted in Silverton OR, charged parents with the misdemeanor of “failing to supervise a minor” when a child under the age of 18 years violates any provision of the Silverton Municipal Code. (Silverton, OR) Under provisions of the ordinance, if a juvenile commits a violation of law, his or her parent is served with a warning notice for failure to supervise a child. If the child commits a subsequent offense, the parents are issued a citation to Municipal Court for failure to supervise a child. The goal of the ordinance is to hold parents accountable for the actions of their minor children. Within a short time Mayor Ken Hector reported a significant reduction in juvenile crime and reduced levels of truancy. Furthermore school officials reported increased levels of involvement of parents with their children. (Silverton, OR)
During the 1995 Oregon legislative session and after the enactment of the ordinance in Silverton, similar legislation was passed and made law. The Oregon law allows courts to order parents into education or counseling programs with the purpose being to improve parenting skills and the ability of parents to supervise the youth offender. (ORD 419C.573) An additional law “holds parents responsible for no minors being upon any street, highway, park, alley or other public place between the hours of 12 midnight and 4a.m.of the following morning.”(ORD 419C.682)
At least 16 states have enacted similar parental responsibility laws. Caught somewhere between prevention and punishment for both children and parents, these laws attempt to involve parents in the lives of their children by holding them civilly and/or criminally liable for their children’s actions. Penalties for violation of these laws include increased participation by parents in juvenile proceedings; financial responsibility for restitution payments and court costs; financial responsibility for detention, treatment, and supervisory costs; participation in treatment, counseling, or other diversion programs; and criminal responsibility and possible jail time for parents found negligent in their supervision. (Yee)
In some instances parental responsibility laws have been most effective with those parents that are humiliated by the process. What could be more embarrassing to an adult who is well known and respected in the community? In these instances appearing in Court and being held accountable for ineffective parenting and lacking supervision certainly could become incentive to pay more attention to a teen’s behavior. Nationally the support for parental responsibility laws remains controversial. Never the less, the potential these laws have in combating youth crime based on the increased parental involvement and attention given to their children has to be beneficial to society today. (Yee)
Every town, village, and city has had to deal with adolescent substance abuse. The association between drug abuse and crime is staggering. Research shows that over half of all juveniles arrested test positive for cocaine. (Siegel, et. al) It is also shown that drug abusers are far more likely to become delinquents than non-abusers. The most frequently abused drugs for juveniles are marijuana, steroids, cocaine, designer drugs like ecstasy, and stimulants like crystal meth. The University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research conducts an annual Monitoring the Future survey. This is one of the most important and most influential surveys regarding juvenile substance abuse, and has roughly 45,000 students and 433 schools that participate. In 1996 and 1997 the amount of juveniles using illegal substances was at its highest ever. So why do juveniles use drugs? Researchers say poverty, social disorganization, genetic factors, and emotional problems are all to blame.
There are several treatment strategies available to juvenile users. Scott Henggeler created the multisystematic therapy (MST) technique which involves focusing on problem solving and communication skills. In his long term evaluation he found that juvenile substance abusers who went through his program were significantly less likely to recidivate than others who received traditional treatment services. Other programs like wilderness programs and after-school community programs have also shown positive results. (Siegel, et. al)
Statistics and gruesome tales portrayed by the media make it tough for the average citizen to make a quality decision concerning youthful offenders. On July 28, 1999, 12 year old Lionel Tate was imitating professional wrestlers when he beat to death 6 year old Tiffany Eunick. (Courtroom Television Network) In June of 2005, a 7 year old boy was charged in the beating death of his 7 month old sister because he was jealous of the attention the baby received. Reports show he kicked, punched and beat the child with a 2×4. (Dennis) That same week in New York, a 9 year old girl fatally stabbed an 11 year old friend to death with a steak knife after an argument over a ball. (Dennis) These tragedies are only a few of the hundreds of stories heard on the news and read in the papers everyday.
How does children ages 7, 9, and 12 come to decide when it is justifiable to take another’s life? How do these children even know how to take the life of another human being? Is it the television? How about the new onslaught of explicitly graphic video games, which are marketed at today’s youth? Though these seem to be plausible causes for the problems generating today’s juvenile delinquent, I think the solution lay a little closer to the home front.
Maybe one real cause of the problem is that we allow anyone to breed. In our country today you are required to get a license to have a dog. You have to get a marriage certificate. Another certification to drive a car and you have to insure the car. However there are no restrictions or requirements concerning procreation and child rearing. When a couple decides to adopt a child there are extensive background checks done, months of waiting and yards of red tape before they are able to bring home a child. Would it not be productive to have requirements of people who wish to take on the great task of raising a child? At least we could insist upon mandatory classes teaching proper child development techniques. An excellent example of a program making a huge difference is the WIC program. In order for clients to receive vouchers for help with food and baby formula, they must attend classes every three months. The classes teach nutritional values, smart shopping, and an array of useful skills in raising healthy children with good eating habits while on a budget. It is pretty well known that money motivates Americans. A class or series of classes directed at teaching parenting and early childhood development skills could be required of any parent that wishes to claim the EIC (earned income tax credit) on their taxes. A three hour class on how divorce affects children should be required when a couple divorcing has children together, in order to be granted the divorce. Parents have been made responsible before for their children’s actions, but wait… What if the parents were mandated to attend a series of classes or seminars that could help teach them to more effectively handle the situation, preventing future offenses? How can we address each child’s individual needs better than to encourage their own parents involvement? The parents live with them, are overall responsible for them, and may think twice about having any more if they are held accountable for the actions of their children. Values and integrity are learned at an early age and in the home. Once upon a time in America, these were a priority in the home. Somehow we lost that, and need to get it back. The only way we can start is by forcing education on the parents of these children. This has to be our foundation to building a system that can effectively prevent and treat our youth.
American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychology (AACAP). (2002, November 13). Children and TV Violence. Retrieved December 13, 2007, from http://www.aacap.org/cs/root/facts_for_families/children_and_tv_violence
City of Silverton, OR. (n.d.). Title 9 Criminal Code. Retrieved December 5, 2007, from http://www.codepublishing.com/OR/Silverton.html
Connor, T. O. (2005, November 30). Juvenile Justice Overview. Retrieved November 17, 2007, from http://faculty.ncwc.edu/TOCONNOR/111/111lect14.htm
Courtroom Television Network, LLC. (2000, November 7). Where It All Began: 14- Year- Old Gets Life. Retrieved December 13, 2007, from http://www.courttv.com/trials/wrestling/background.html
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Kwan, M. (2007, December 12). Futurelooks Holiday 2007 Guide to Hottest Video Games. Retrieved December 13, 2007, from http://www.futurelooks.com/futurelooks-holiday-2007-guide-to-the-hottest-video-games/
Richey, W. (2005, March 2). Juvenile Death Penalty Abolished. Retrieved November 18, 2007, from http://www.csmonitor.com/2005/0302/p01s01-usju.html
Roberts, A. R. (2004, March). Juvenile Justice Sourcebook: Past, Present and Future. New Jersey: Oxford University Press.
Roffe, S. (1999). Juvenile Detention in New York: Then and Now. Retrieved November 17, 2007, from http://www.correctionhistory.org/html/chronicl/djj/djj20yrs3.htm#1800
Rosenheim, M. K. (2002). F. E. Zimring, D. S. Tanenhaus, & B. Dohrin, Eds.A Century of Juvenile Justice. University of Chicago Press.
Rubenstein, G. (1997, December 13). The Season’s 10 Hottest Video Games. Hearst Communications, Inc. Retrieved December 13, 2007, from http://www.sfisonline.com/cgibin/article/article?f=/e/a/1997/12/13/STYLE11080.dtl
Siegel, L. J., Welsh, B. C., & Senna, J. J. (2006). E. Howard, Ed.Juvenile Delinquency: Theory, Practice and Law (9th Ed.). Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth.
Yee, A. (1999, January). Parental Responsibility in Juvenile Justice. National Conference of State Legislatures. Retrieved December 13, 2007, from http://www.ncsl.org/programs/press/schoolviolence/LEGIS73.htm