36 LOUISIANA LAW REVIEW [Vol. 71
public safety and reduce the social cost of juvenile crime.
there is evidence that lawmakers are listening.
In this Article, we argue that a developmental model of
juvenile crime regulation grounded in scientific knowledge about
adolescence is both fairer to young offenders and more likely to
promote social welfare than a regime that fails to attend to
developmental research. We challenge the punitive reformers who
have presumed that public safety is enhanced and social welfare
promoted if serious juvenile offenders are punished as adults, and
who have been unconcerned about whether their approach is
compatible with principles of fair punishment. We focus here
primarily on the social welfare argument for a separate and more
lenient juvenile justice system grounded in a developmental
framework. First, the argument for mitigation on the grounds of
developmental immaturity is more familiar, and although it
supports less punishment, it provides no strong basis for a separate
Moreover, lawmakers and the public care about
accountability, but they may care even more about public safety;
fears about the threat of young ―superpredators‖ propelled the
transformation of juvenile crime policy that took place in the late
Thus, a regime that deals with juveniles more
leniently than adults (because they deserve less punishment) is
likely to fail in the political arena if public safety is imperiled. In
short, the viability of the developmental model depends on
evidence that the punitive response of the past generation is not
. See SCOTT & STEINBERG, supra note 2, at 181–222. A few sc holars have
gone a step further, arguing that public safety should be the only goal of juvenile
crime regulation. See Christopher Slobogin & Mark R. Fondacaro, Juvenile
Justice: The F ourth Option, 95 IOWA L. REV. 1 (2009).
. In the past few years, po licymakers have retreated somewhat fro m the
punitive reforms of the 19 90s, often pointing to rese arch on j uveniles‘
developmental immaturity. See, e.g., Editorial, Two Words: Wasteful a nd
Ineffective, N.Y. TIMES, Oct. 10, 2010, at A22 (describing New York ‘s closure
of institutional juvenile justice facilities that contribute to reo ffending, and
arguing for expedition of more closings).
. Barry Feld has argued for a unitary justice system in which juveniles
receive a ―youth discount‖ and rec eive shorter sentences. BARRY C. FELD, BAD
KIDS: RACE AND THE TRANSFORMATION OF THE JUVENILE COURT (1999); see
also Barry C. Feld, The Tr ansformation of the Juvenile Court, 75 MINN. L. REV.
. This term was coined by University of Pennsylvania criminologist J ohn
DiIulio, who in 1995 predicted that the new century would bring a juvenile
crime wave far worse than the 1990s. John J. DiIulio, Jr., The Coming of the
Super-Predators, WKLY. STANDARD, Nov. 27, 1995, at 23. DiIulio later
expressed regret for the hyper bole and acknowledged that the prediction had not
come to pass. Elizabeth Becker, As Ex-Theorist on Young “Superpredators,”
Bush Aide Has Regrets, N.Y. TIMES, Feb. 9, 2001, at A19.