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Juvenile Justice in the Making
     

Juvenile Justice in the Making

by David S. Tanenhaus, Bernardine Dohrn (Foreword by)
 

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"Tried as an adult." The phrase rings with increasing frequency through America's courtrooms. In Michigan, an 11-year-old is charged with first-degree homicide in the shooting death of a playmate. A mentally disabled boy in Florida faces armed robbery and extortion charges that could bring 30 years in prison for stealing $2 worth of food. Faith in

Overview

"Tried as an adult." The phrase rings with increasing frequency through America's courtrooms. In Michigan, an 11-year-old is charged with first-degree homicide in the shooting death of a playmate. A mentally disabled boy in Florida faces armed robbery and extortion charges that could bring 30 years in prison for stealing $2 worth of food. Faith in childhood, and its corollary that separate courts are required for children because they are developmentally different from adults, appears to be vanishing. Almost forgotten in this climate—in which a New York Times' headline boldly announced that the "Fear of Crime Trumps the Fear of Lost Youth"—is the fact that the juvenile court is one of America's most influential legal inventions.

Long before the crimes of the young became a national preoccupation, Americans struggled with many of the same questions posed by today's aggressive sentencing of minors. What is the legal status of children? Does a particularly horrific crime merit a commensurately severe response, regardless of the age of the offender? Who belongs in juvenile court, and what is its exact purpose?

In his engaging narrative history of the rise and workings of America's first juvenile court, David S. Tanenhaus explores the fundamental and enduring question of how the law should treat the young. Sifting through almost 3,000 previously unexamined Chicago case files from the early twentieth century, Tanenhaus reveals how children's advocates slowly built up a separate court system for juveniles, all the while fighting political and legal battles to legitimate this controversial institution. In the process, the juvenile court became a catalyst for the development of the American welfare state, the medicalization of child rearing, and the beginnings of innovative community organizing programs.

Today, as America's treatment of juvenile offenders becomes increasingly draconian, the United States, once a leader in the international crusade to secure justice for children, is now in this respect effectively a rogue nation. Harkening back to a more hopeful and nuanced age Juvenile Justice in the Making provides a valuable historical framework for thinking about youth policy.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"...a very useful and well-written introduction to the complex history of a pioneering institution."—Journal of American History

"This book is a welcome addition to the existing literature and should be read by scholars, students, juvenile court professionals, and the general public."—American Historical Review

"A quite brilliant and compelling book. Based on his detailed analysis of some 3,000 case files from the Cook County Juvenile Court between 1899 and 1926 he builds a picture of how the first juvenile court came to be established and uncovers the historic roots of some contemporary questions about young offenders—what is the legal status of a child that commits a crime, especially a horrific one, how should they be punished, and what causes children to commit crimes in the first place?"—Howard Journal of Penal Reform

"This book is most helpful in educating lawyers and political scientists about the findings of delinquency studies from the sister disciplines of sociology and psychology."—The Law and Politics Book Review

"Juvenile Justice in the Making is a must read for anyone concerned with children. David Tanenhaus suggests that our view of childhood has changed quite radically in recent years. With the storytelling skills of an historian and the clearheadedness of a law scholar, Tanenhaus takes us back to the founding of the juvenile court to illustrate how far we've strayed from our faith in childhood as a separate province from adulthood."—Alex Kotlowitz, author of There Are No Children Here

"In this time of despair over the very possibility of achieving juvenile justice, David Tanenhaus makes a compelling case for understanding the present by looking backward. Juvenile Justice in the Making reminds us of the persistent power of the belief that the young deserve a separate system designed expressly for them. And he insightfully explains why we must understand that the American juvenile justice system did not emerge full born but evolved over time out of determined attempts to realize its critical mission. By giving juvenile justice back its past, Tanenhaus pens a persuasive argument for rethinking its present and reimagining its future."—Michael Grossberg, Professor of History & Law, Indiana University

"Juvenile Justice in the Making captures the timeless lessons of the early juvenile court and applies them intelligently and passionately to the complex challenges it faces today. Tanenhaus carefully reconstructs the early history of this resilient institution to remind us how a separate court for children evolved through swirling social contexts and political cultures to give a recurring institutional voice to our enduring notions about children and the law."—Jeffrey Fagan, Professor of Law and Public Health, Columbia University

"In his compelling new history of Juvenile Justice in the Making, David S. Tanenhaus has accomplished what many scholars considered all but impossible: a fresh historical interpretation of the development, operation, and enduring importance of the juvenile court. Scholars, lawyers, child welfare workers [or children's advocates], and policy pundits will wrestle with the significance and perhaps even more with the lessons of Tanenhaus' bold new opening."— Harvey J. Graff, author of Conflicting Paths: Growing Up in America

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780195160451
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date:
02/20/2004
Series:
Studies in Crime and Public Policy Series
Pages:
264
Product dimensions:
8.20(w) x 5.80(h) x 1.10(d)
Lexile:
1730L (what's this?)

Meet the Author

Co-editor of A Century of Juvenile Justice, David S. Tanenhaus is Associate Professor of History and the James E. Rogers Professor of History and Law at the William S. Boyd School of Law, University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

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