Bad Kids: Race and The Transformation of the Juvenile Court.

AuthorFerrall, Bard R.

BARRY C. FELD, BAD KIDS: RACE AND THE TRANSFORMATION OF THE JUVENILE COURT (New York, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1999) 374 pp.

The juvenile court system should be discontinued, the author argues, because it is structurally unable to serve the functions for which it was intended. The special protections youthful offenders need should be provided by changes in the substantive criminal law which would recognize youth as a mitigating factor and regard adolescents as less culpable because of limited opportunities to develop self control. The author examines the social developments in the late nineteenth century behind the notion that the judicial action against the youthful offender should be different (i.e., more lenient) from that against adult criminals. This led to the establishment of juvenile courts. The changes in the juvenile court system are traced through the twentieth century. The system was conceptually flawed from the beginning, because it was intended to serve the conflicting purposes of both law enforcement and child welfare. Various developments over the century further distorted the original conception of the juvenile court. The Supreme Court's In re Gault ruling that defendants in the juvenile court system are entitled to the same constitutional protections as other criminal defendants eventually led to the unforseen result that juvenile offenders were treated more like adults in all respects. The notion of leniency towards the juvenile offender...

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