PUBLIC SAFETY DIVISION - RIO HONDO COLLEGE

Administration of Justice 207
Unit 1
The Historical and Philosophical Roots and
The Evolution of the Juvenile Justice System in the Twentieth century


Unit Objectives:
At the completion of this unit, the student will know:
  1. What principles were established by the Code of Hammurabi.
  2. Why parens patriae is important in juvenile justice.
  3. Who were among the key reformers of the Enlightenment.
  4. What concepts were important to the classical and positivist views of criminality.
  5. When the term juvenile delinquency was first used.
  6. When and where the first juvenile court was established.
  7. How probation was to function in the juvenile court.
  8. Know how Progressive Era proponents viewed crime and what model they refined.
  9. Know how social workers became affiliated with the first juvenile courts.
  10. Know when and how probation officers became affiliated with the juvenile courts.
  11. Know about the JJDP Act of 1974.
  12. Know what the Four Ds of juvenile justice refer to.
  13. Post a response to the Instructor's e-mail.


Unit Overview:

The Code of Hammurabi was the first comprehensive description of a system used by society to regulate behavior and at the same time punish those who disobeyed the rules. The main principle of this Code was that the strong shall not injure the weak. It established a social order based on individual rights. It is the origin of the legal principle of lex talionis, that is, an eye for an eye.

A significant influence on the development of juvenile justice was the concept of parens patriae, which came from the Feudal Period of England. Parens patriae is the right and responsibility of the government to take care of minors and others who cannot legally take care of themselves.

Bridewells were the first houses of corrections in England. They confined both children and adults considered to be idle and disorderly. As time progressed, conditions in the bridewells and other places of confinement became so deplorable that several individuals demanded reform. Among the key reformers of the Enlightenment were Montesquieu, Beccaria, Howard, Peel and Lombroso. Montesquieu's philosophy centered around the social contract whereby free, independent individuals agree to form a community and to give up a portion of their individual freedom to benefit the security of the group. Beccaria was the founder of the classical view of criminality

The Historical and Philosophical Roots of the Juvenile Justice System stressing the social contract, the prevention of crime and the need to make any punishment fit the crime committed. Another reformer was John Howard, often thought of as the father of prison reform. Howard brought to England from Rome a model of the first institution for treating juvenile offenders, the Hospice of San Michele (Saint Michael), established in 1704. The father of modern policing was Peel, whose reforms resulted in the passage of the Metropolitan Police Act of 1829, creating the Metropolitan Police of London. In opposition to the classical view of criminality, another reformer, Lombroso, believed that environmental influences affected criminal behavior, leading scholars to develop the positivist view of criminality based on the concept of determinism.

The colonists brought much of the English criminal justice system with them to America. During this time five distinct, yet interrelated, social institutions developed in response to poor, abused, neglected, dependent and delinquent children brought before a court: indenture and apprenticeship, mixed almshouses (poorhouses), private orphanages, public facilities for dependent children and jails.

A committee report in 1818 listed "juvenile delinquency" as a major cause of pauperism the first public recognition of the term juvenile delinquency. In 1825 the New York House of Refuge opened to house juvenile delinquents, who were defined in its charter as "youths convicted of criminal offenses or found in vagrancy." By the middle of the nineteenth century many states either built reform schools or converted their houses of refuge to reform schools. The reform schools emphasized formal schooling, but they also retained large workshops and continued the contract system of labor. The middle of the nineteenth century also included the child-saving movement. The child savers' philosophy was that the child was basically good and was to be treated by the state as a young person with a problem. Another important reformer during this time was John Augustus, the first probation officer. In 1878 the position of probation officer was officially recognized as an arm of the court.

In 1899 the Illinois legislature passed a law establishing a juvenile court that became the cornerstone for juvenile justice throughout the United States. The first juvenile courts functioned as administrative agencies of the circuit or district courts and were mandated as such by legislative action. The vision of the child savers and the founders of the juvenile court was the rehabilitative ideal of reforming children instead of punishing them. Probation, according to the 1899 Illinois Juvenile Court Act, was to have both an investigative and a rehabilitative function.

In the first quarter of the twentieth century, the Progressives further developed the medical model established by the Illinois Court Act, viewing crime as a disease that could be treated and cured by social intervention. In the first juvenile courts social workers were probation officers. Two cases, Nicholl vs Koster (1910) and Witter v. Cook County Commissioners (1912), established probation officers as necessary assistants to the juvenile court.

The Nicholl and Witter decisions established the basic dual functions of probation officers: providing legaI and social services. Federal government concern and involvement also began during this period. A direct result of the White House Conference on Youth was the establishment of the U.S. Children's Bureau in 1912. Passage of the Social Security Act in 1935 was the beginning of major federal funding for programs to aid children and families. Then, in 1951, Congress passed the Federal Youth Corrections Act and created a Juvenile Delinquency Bureau in the Department of Health, Education and Welfare.

In 1961 California was the first state to separate status offenses from the delinquent category, in effect, decriminalizing them. Also during the 1960s, the due process rights of youth aroused concern and resulted in several landmark cases. The procedural requirements for waiver to criminal court were articulated by the Supreme Court in Kent v. United States. The Gault decision requires that the due process clause of'the Fourteenth Amendment apply to proceedings in state juvenile courts, including the right of notice, the right to counsel, the right against self-incrimination and the right to confront witnesses.

Another emphasis for reform was concern with isolating offenders from their normal social environment. It was felt such isolation may encourage the development of a delinquent orientation and, thus, further delinquent behavior. In 1967 the President's Commission established a Youth Service Bureau to coordinate community-centered referral programs. The three main functions of the local youth service bureaus were defined as diversion, resource development and system modification. In the late 1960s a new approach for dealing with delinquency emerged – the prevention of crime before youths engage in delinquent acts.

In the 1970s, the major impact of the White House Conference on Youth was that it hit hard at the foundation of our system for handling youths including unnecessarily punitive institutions. Another major change was the assignment of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention under the Department of Justice rather than the Department of Health, Education and Welfare. The Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention QJDP) Act of 197W made federal delinquency prevention funds available to states who removed status offenders from prisons and jails and who created alternative voluntary services to which status offenders could be diverted. This act had two key goals: deinstitutionalization of status offenders and separation/removal of juveniles from adult facilities.

During the last half of the twentieth century the Four Ds of juvenile justice were deinstitutionalization, diversion, due process and decriminalization. Although diversion was heralded by many, it also had some negative aspects. Many youngsters who earlier would have been simply released were instead being referred to the new system of diversionary programs that had sprung up. This process is referred to as net widening. Many of the diversionary programs did achieve success. The successes of the Dallas Youth Services Program have been traced to three factors: (1) the police-based nature of the program, (2) the use of counseling in a law enforcement setting and (3) the skills approach to training and treatment. Nonetheless, diverted youths tend to remain in the justice system longer than nondiverted youths. The 1970s also saw juveniles' rights being addressed.

In re: Winship established proof beyond a reasonable doubt as the standard for juvenile adjudication proceedings, eliminating lesser standards such as a preponderance of the evidence, clear and convincing proof and reasonable proof. McKeiver established that a jury trial is not a required part of due process in the adjudication of a youth as a delinquent by a juvenile court. Breed v. Jones established that a juvenile cannot be adjudicated in juvenile court and then tried for the same offense in an adult criminal court (double jeopardy).

By 1977 the American Bar Association endorsed decriminalization of status offenses, urging that juvenile delinquency liability should include only such conduct as would be designated a crime if committed by an adult. In the 1980s many training schools and high-security institutions were built in rural areas or close to small rural towns so the inmates could be trained in agriculture. The hope was that such training would produce productive citizens. In Schall v. Martin (1984) the Supreme Court upheld the state's right to place juveniles in preventive detention. Preventive detention was perceived as fulfilling a legitimate state interest of protecting society and juveniles by detaining those who might be dangerous to society or to themselves.

Reading Assignment:
Read Textbook Chapters 1 and 2

Internet Assignment:
Review the material in the National Criminal Justice Reference Service NCJRS. Submit a list (Instructor's e-mail) of some of the sites, reports, or reference material that you reviewed.

Writing Assignment:
Go to the Assignment Page and post your responses to the Instructor's e-mail address.


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This document created by Department Staff, September 1998
Last Revision: July 2001
Copyright 1996 DB, Rio Hondo College.
All rights reserved.