Juvenile Justice System
A paper discussing the history of the American system of juvenile justice.
This paper looks at the way in which juvenile offenders were punished as harshly as adult offenders and were subject to corporal and capital punishment, prior to the 1800’s. It discusses how the current American system of juvenile justice is based on hundreds of years of legal traditions, some of which are discussed in brief in this paper.
In the early 1800’s, people were starting to see children in a different light, as persons at a unique level of human development rather than little adults; with equal moral and cognitive capacities. Several alternatives to imprisonment came about during the 1800’s. The cottage system eliminated large congregate living situations and placed smaller cottage-like buildings together. The placing out system placed adolescents from urban slum areas with families in rural areas to teach them how to work and learn under the guidance of a family. Upper class, troubled adolescents were sent to military school to learn discipline. In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, juvenile and family courts were established to separate juvenile delinquents from adult criminals. The child-saving movement was started at this time and the juvenile system was changed to include juvenile, courts, probation, child guidance clinics, truant officers and reformatories.