History of the Juvenile Justice System

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Juvenile Delinquency:
The History of the Juvenile Justice System

Shandi Lillard
Kaplan University
CJ 150 – 02
Professor Raymond Keefauvor
June 14, 2011

The History of the Juvenile Justice System

The Juvenile Justice System is seen by many as being ineffective in treating the youth of this country, the programs are outdated and there seems to be little, if any hope that these youth will stay on the right path once released back into society. This paper will discuss the history of the Juvenile Justice System as well as how it has evolved since its inception. We will also discuss the “waiver process” that is used when transferring juveniles into the adult system, and what, if any, consequences this process may have on both the child and society.

In 1760 William Blackstone’s, Commentaries on the Laws of England was published, William Blackstone was a famous English lawyer and in his book he outlined the types of people that were incapable of committing a crime, there were two distinct groups of people, one labeled “infants” and the other “adults”. Infants were considered anyone under the age of 7, while anyone over the age of 14 was considered an adult. The ages between the two were considered a grey area and children that had committed a crime within this age range were convicted if they appeared to know the difference between right and wrong, or showed that they understood their actions. Anyone under the age of 7 was presumed to be incapable of committing a crime because they were not of an age to understand their actions, and anyone over 14 was presumed to know the difference between right and wrong and therefore would be treated as an adult (Americanbar.org).

During the 19th Century, social reformers started to implement changes to the way juveniles in the United States were treated, they started created new facilities to house juvenile delinquents and started to focus more on...
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