Taking Juvenile Justice Seriously: Developmental Insights and System Challenges.

Author:Sloan, Beverly

Written by Christopher J. Sullivan, Temple University Press, P' Edition (2019), 330pp.


Beverly Sloan, PsyD, EPA, EPC-S, CCHF, Senior Mental Health Manager, UTMB-CMC Region I

In his new book, "Taking Juvenile Justice Seriously: Developmental Insights and System Challenges," Christopher J. Sullivan does a great job looking at the juvenile justice system from a developmental psychology perspective. I would recommend that those who work in the juvenile justice system and want to gain a better understanding of how to help juveniles in the system achieve success, thereby not ending up in the adult system, read this book. He provides both a historical and current overview of the system, obstacles within the system, current practices in the system and recommendations for a successful developmental approach to helping youthful offenders.

In Part 1, Sullivan takes a look at the past and the role of the juvenile justice system, as well as the typical characteristics of delinquency. He provides an overview of the system and the youths involved with a review of present-day operations and the importance of looking at it from a developmental approach. Sullivan's overview of the juvenile justice system shows how the pendulum has gone from sanctions only to a treatment orientation and a call to treat juveniles as juveniles using age-appropriate treatment and life-course factors. This is a shift from the historical treatment of adolescents where they were treated the same as adults in the adult correctional system.

Sullivan also provides examples of research throughout the book regarding implementation of innovative policies and best practices. He points out that juveniles typically act out with others and are seldom alone when they engage in criminal behaviors. He also illustrates how academic problems, home life issues and behavioral problems play a role in the juveniles' behaviors throughout their developmental years and can be used to help alter their behaviors through appropriate treatment goals.

Adolescence is a time for learning and is a transitory period between childhood and adulthood. Thus, it provides an opportunity for youths to make positive changes and it gives the system an...

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