Juvenile Justice of Yesterday, Today and Future

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Juvenile Justice of Yesterday, Today and Future
Crystal Meeks
CRJ 301 Juvenile Justice
Instructor: Kathleen Minella
February 4, 2013

Juvenile Justice of Yesterday, Today and Future
“We have to recognize that incarceration of youth per se is toxic, so we need to reduce incarceration of young people to the very small dangerous few. And we’ve got to recognize that if we lock up a lot of kids; it’s going to increase crime” (Krisberg, Dr.).

The intention of this writing is to discover some history of the juvenile justice programs, to look at how it is used today and then to discuss future changes that would enhance the juvenile systems. Reducing the amount of youths being incarcerated, reducing the recidivism rate improving rehabilitating methods not only in the Justice system but also within our communities. The installation of programs that would educate both the community and the youth that would give the youth a better chance of success within the communities and give them a future with a better outlook on life giving them a better chance to becoming productive members of their communities and society as a whole by the time they reach adulthood.

Our children, our juveniles are the future of our country and as far back as the early 1900’s it was recognized that prosecuting juveniles in adult courts proved to be a great disservice the youth. In 1903 Judge Ben Lindsey of Colorado became an advocate for juvenile justice and went down in history as “The Kids Judge.” The memories of his self as a youth growing up in a low-income working class family, the fact that he himself landed in a Colorado Jail when he was young and the meeting of two youths that were indigent having to serve time with a horse thief and a safe cracker made such an impression on him that he grew a dauntless dedication to ensuring reforms that aided in creating a Juvenile Justice System and improving children’s lives. This pioneer of the juvenile justice recognized the adult jails were harmful to juveniles and endangered them as well as taught them more lessons in crime instead of rehabilitating them. So gathering politicians, Colorado’s governor and the press he set up a summit to talks with some of the youth in prison at that time. The talks made a huge impact on these influential people and convinced them that indeed there was a need for reform. The results were the formation of a “separate court system and rehabilitative housing for teen offenders”. (Moffeit, 2006).

In the early times of juvenile justice, the late 18th century, children under the age of seven were not prosecuted as they were not thought to be able to commit a crime with intention but once they reached age seven they could be prosecuted and could be given a prison or even a death sentence. The 19th century however brought in some forms using some of the 16th century European educational reforms to go by; changing the way people viewed children within the justice system by reasoning that children were not just “miniature people” they indeed had a lack of moral and cognitive understanding making it impossible to fully understand laws or the consequences of breaking those laws. In 1847 John Augustus, a boot maker from Boston bailed out 19 boys and took charge of them with the understanding that their cases would be open and he along with the boys would appear on court dates as directed by the courts to see the progress of these boys. The judge was pleased five or six months afterwards upon the return to court of the boys who ages ranged from age 7 to 15as their mentor, John Augustus had worked with the boys rehabilitating them, and giving the court reason to install a Juvenile program within the court system. His efforts led John Augustus to be fondly called the “Father of Probation” from then on. The first Juvenile court was established in Illinois in 1899 when the Juvenile court Act was passed. This act was dedicated to focusing on the welfare of...
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