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Juvenile (In)Justice and the Criminal Court Alternative (From Criminal Courts for the 21st Century, P 122-139, 1999, Lisa Stolzenberg and Steward J. D'Alessio, eds. -- See NCJ-186588)

NCJ Number
Barry C. Feld
Date Published
18 pages
This article examines the transformation of the contemporary juvenile court.
Three types of reforms--jurisdictional jurisprudential, and procedural--characterize the transformation of the contemporary juvenile court. The substantive and procedural convergence between juvenile and criminal courts eliminates most of the conceptual and operational differences between social control strategies for youths and adults. Increasingly, courts and legislatures transfer some youths from juvenile courts to criminal courts for prosecution as adults. As jurisdiction contracts with the removal of serious offenders and noncriminal status offenders, sentences received by delinquents charged with crimes are based on the idea of just deserts rather than their "real needs." Proportional and determinate sentences based on the present offense and the child's record, rather than the best interests of the child, dictate the length, location, and intensity of intervention. The article concludes that, although theoretically, juvenile courts' procedures closely resemble those of criminal courts, in reality, the justice routinely afforded juveniles is lower than the minimum insisted upon for adults. Rethinking the juvenile court requires critically reassessing the meaning of childhood and creating social institutions to ensure the welfare of the next generation. References, cases cited