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The Rhetoric of Juvenile Justice Reform

Hemmens, Craig
June 4, 2015

Source: (1999) Quinnipiac Law Review. 18:661.

Whether statistics bear this out or not, there is a perception in the United States that juvenile crime is out of control. The response is often a call to “get toughâ€? on juvenile offenders. The trend in many jurisdictions is to treat young offenders more like adult offenders. All of this has led to debate and reevaluation of the juvenile justice system. The validity of the original goals of the system – to care for and rehabilitate young offenders, and to intervene positively in the lives of abused and neglected children – is questioned. Some therefore advocate abolition of the juvenile justice system, while others stop short of abolition but still argue for significant reform. In this context, the authors of this paper analyze and categorize recent changes in the philosophical underpinnings of the juvenile justice system. In particular, they examine juvenile justice code “purpose clausesâ€? to assess which specific goals state legislatures are embracing as the focus of their juvenile justice systems.


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