Juvenile Delinquency Laws and Juveniles in Criminal Court

This paper explores the various aspects of juvenile delinquency under the laws of the US and attempts to explain its purpose and adequacy. This paper takes the position that juvenile delinquency means different things to different adults. For the police a juvenile delinquent is an “under-aged criminal” for teachers a delinquent can be a truant student and for parents, the juvenile delinquent may be an uncontrollable child. (Rock, 29) From each of these perspectives, it is clear that juvenile delinquency laws are designed to either prevent criminal conduct in minors or to rehabilitate juvenile offenders.
The progressive era in the US which commenced in the 1900s and lasted until around 1918 saw a number of social changes particularly relating to women’s rights and labor reform. (Whitebread and Heilman, 285-305) Prior to the progressive era juvenile delinquents under the age of 7 were typically punished with adults. (Whitebread and Heilman, 285-305) Previously, however, the efforts of psychologists as well as social and political reformers during the 18th and 19th centuries began to influence a shift in the attitude toward juvenile delinquency. (Whitebread and Heilman, 285-305)For instance, the New York House of Refuge was established in 1824 for the express purpose of rehabilitating rather than punishing the juvenile delinquent. (Whitebread and Heilman, 285-305)
By 1899 other states followed suit, setting up similar youth reform centers. (Whitebread and Heilman, 285-305) The juvenile justice system also saw some changes in the attitude toward juvenile delinquents and took an approach that assimilated the court with a “parens patriae” role. (Whitebread and Heilman, 285-305) In other words, the court acted as a parent or guardian.
By the time of the progressive era children would no longer be treated as adults in a criminal trial and their hearings would take on an informal decor. Extenuating circumstances would be taken into&nbsp.account and reformatory houses would become the norm for juvenile incarceration.&nbsp.