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Recriminalizing Delinquency: Violent Juvenile Crimes and Juvenile Justice Reform

NCJ Number
S I Singer
Date Published
243 pages
The author presents a case study of legislation in New York State that aims to control violent juvenile crime by redefining previous acts of juvenile delinquency as crimes and juvenile delinquents as juvenile offenders.
The book begins with the brutal violence of a 15-year-old chronic juvenile delinquent and subsequent passage of waiver legislation that lowered the age of criminal responsibility for juveniles charged with violent offenses. The author argues that reasons for bringing juveniles into criminal court go beyond sensational acts of violence and immediate concerns of elected officials to do something about violent juvenile crime. Instead, recriminalization is seen as a product of earlier juvenile justice reforms and contemporary political and organizational interests in classifying juveniles with a diverse set of legal categories. The author shows that waiver legislation has not eliminated the need for juvenile justice nor has it reduced the incidence of violent juvenile crime. Provisions of New York State's Juvenile Offender Law are described, particularly provisions lowering the eligible age of criminal responsibility to 13 years for murder and 14 years for other violent offenses. Recriminalization is discussed in terms of juvenile justice reforms, contextual and legal issues for identifying juveniles as criminal offenders, case processing of juvenile offenders from arrest to disposition, deterrence, and convicted juvenile offenders in maximum-security facilities. Appendixes contain definitions of designated felony offenses, a survey to measure prosecutorial attitudes, and offense severity weights. References, tables, and figures