This chapter entailed the history and philosophies behind the upbringing of the Juvenile Justice system that we know of today. Beginning, with England influences that shaped the Juvenile Justice System in the United States. In the early England history of the Juvenile Justice System, the Roman Catholic Church were the overseers of how children were viewed. Under the churches parens patriae doctrine, which is a doctrine that the state has the responsibility to look after the well being of children; put in place laws for children who committed crimes. These laws were that children under the age of seven years old could not form criminal intent and therefore cant be held accountable for there own actions, also children ages ranging from seven to fourteen years old, their crimes were presumes incompetent until evidence proves them guilty of the crime, and children who were fourteen years old were considered adults.
The development of the Juvenile Justice System in the United States progressed through five distinct stages, with each stage entailing its philosophies, treatment, and policies. These five stages were, The Puritan Period, Refugee Period, Juvenile Court Period, Juvenile Right Period and The Crime Control Period. The Puritan Period, which ranged from the years of 1646 to 1824 main focus of controlling juveniles, was the family. In the Puritan Period, they believed that misbehaving children were generally controlled with punishment from their family and external, community punishment and discipline were only necessary when familial punishment didn’t work.
During the Refuge Period (1824-1899) reformers built separate institutions for the youth such as houses of refuge, reform schools, and foster homes to protect the youth from confinement in jails, prisons, and institutions. There were many developments during this time period, first, in 1824, the New York House of Refuge was built and was the first reformatory opened to house juvenile delinquents. Another development, Reform Schools, were intended to provide discipline in a “homelike” environment. Also, foster homes were put in place to be family surrogates to juvenile delinquents. These foster homes were frequently built I rural areas due to the city being a place of crime and bad influences. In this period, reformers known as “child savers” believed that the youth’s environment could potentially make them “bad.” For example, if a child was raised in a rough neighborhood, then that child could possibly turn out to be a troubled juvenile delinquent. The Child savers strictly believed that the youth shouldn’t be tried in criminal court alongside adult offenders nor should they be sentenced to jail with violent criminals.
In the Juvenile Court Period (1899-1960) the progressives believed that it is the parent’s responsibility to raise their child to be obedient and a hard worker, but if the parent couldn’t fulfill these duties then the reformers believed in state intervention. This intervention, shaped the 1899 Juvenile Court Act, which was an act to “regulate the treatment and control of dependent, neglected, and delinquent children.” The Juvenile Court Act had a policy known as the “medical model,” this models philosophy was that delinquency was preventable and could be treated and cured.
The Juvenile Rights Period (1960-1980) was a period were there were due process for the youth, status offense reforms, along with major supreme court cases that led to more rights for the youth in the juvenile justice system. In this period, to deal with problems in the juvenile justice system, new policies were established regarding the four Ds of juvenile justice. These four Ds were deinstitutionalization, diversion, due process, and decriminalization. With these policies came court decisions, the Gault Decision was due process, the Uniform Juvenile Court Act had to deal with deinstitutionalization, the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act on 1974 had two distinct goals; deinstitutionalization and separation of juveniles from adult offenders, and the McKeiver Decision was due process.
The final period, the Crime Control Period was from 1980 to the present years. During this period the treatments shift from medical to a more best interests model, juveniles can now be held in preventive detention while awaiting trial due to the Schall v. Martin ruling from the supreme court and juveniles could also be tried as an adult.