December 15, 2008
"Rethinking Juvenile Justice"
The title of this post is the title of this new entry on SSRN, which provides a means to download the first chapter of this new book from Elizabeth Scott and Laurence Steinberg. Here is the abstract of the book from the SSRN posting:
Legal reforms over the past generation have transformed juvenile crime regulation from a system that viewed most youth crime as the product of immaturity into one that is ready to hold many youths to the standard of accountability imposed on adults. Supporters of these reforms argue that they are simply a response to the inability of the traditional juvenile court to deal adequately with violent youth crime, but the legal changes that have transformed the system have often been undertaken in an atmosphere of moral panic, with little deliberation about consequences and costs.
In this book we argue that a developmental model of regulation that is grounded in scientific knowledge about adolescence and juvenile crime is more compatible with the justice system's commitment to fairness and also more likely to promote social welfare than the contemporary approach. This premise for the most part translates into a legal regime that deals with most adolescent offenders as an intermediate legal category of persons — neither children nor adults. Developmental knowledge clarifies that the typical teenage offender is less culpable than his adult counterpart and therefore deserves less punishment. It also indicates that most adolescents mature out of their inclination to get involved in criminal activity, and that correctional interventions may influence the trajectories of their adult lives. The research shows that programs that attend to developmental knowledge are likely to facilitate the transition to conventional adult roles, benefiting both young offenders and society by reducing recidivism and reducing the economic costs of crime regulation.
December 15, 2008 at 06:01 PM | Permalink
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Funny how they always talk about fairness from the perspective of some criminal, but never about the victims of crimes that would have been prevented had the justice system been a little less enlightened.
Posted by: | Dec 16, 2008 3:29:28 AM
"Legal reforms over the past generation have transformed juvenile crime regulation from a system that viewed most youth crime as the product of immaturity into one that is ready to hold many youths to the standard of accountability imposed on adults."
I often hear this but I wonder whether it's really true outside of homicide cases. I honestly don't know, but when I worked in family court years ago, it seemed to me that the old juvenile system was in full operation.
Posted by: | Dec 16, 2008 10:25:28 AM
What do you say to victims? Let's say some little miscreant mugs a woman in her own neighborhood. Why should she have to see the kid after his light sentence? All these things sound nice, but there are real world issues here that seem to be discounted.
Posted by: federalist | Dec 16, 2008 12:08:49 PM
"Legal reforms over the past generation have transformed juvenile crime regulation from a system that viewed most youth crime as the product of immaturity into one that is ready to hold many youths to the standard of accountability imposed on adults.
IF ANYONE WITH A PERFECT YOUTH LET THEM CAST THE FIRST STONE...IT IS A SHAM WHEN A KID COMMITS A NON, I SAY NON-VIOLENT OFFENSE SUCH HAS SHOPLIFTING, SKIPPING SCHOOL, GETTING A FORMERLY KNOWN AS YOUTHFUL FISTFIGHT WITHOUT A WEAPON I ADD, TRESSPASSING AND YOU GET A CRIMINAL RECORD THAT WILL LAST FOR LIFE THAT IS NOT JUSTICE TO ANYONE IN MY VIEW. A WHOLE BUNCH OF US OLDER ADULTS WOULD HAVE CRIMINAL RECORDS, PROBABLY EVEN SOME HIGH PROFILE FOLKS IF THE LAWS AND PENALTIES OF TODAY HAD BEEN IN FORCE DECADES AGO.......IT NEEDS TO CHANGE WHERE YOUTHFUL, NON, I REPEAT NON-VIOLENT ACTS ARE HELD ON A KIDS RECORD FOR THE REST OF THEIR LIFE.....LET'S TEMPER MERCY AND YOUTHFUL ACTS WITH JUSTICE!!!
Posted by: Mike Childers | Dec 17, 2008 4:07:35 PM
Just a quick plug that a review of this book by Professor Emily Buss will appear in Vol 76:1 of the University of Chicago Law Review, which comes out this spring.
Posted by: UofC Student | Dec 17, 2008 9:52:35 PM