Pub. date: 2008 | Online Pub. Date: May 28, 2008 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412963930 | Print ISBN: 9781412941655 | Online ISBN: 9781412963930| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Juvenile Justice System
Christine A. Eith
The U.S. juvenile justice system is currently designed to address the special needs of minors who engage in criminal acts but might not yet be held fully responsible for their behavior, as they are not yet legal adults recognized by society. However, juvenile justice has not always been driven by this philosophy. Prior to the 19th century, the criminal justice system treated all individuals over age 5 equally. Around 1825, a reform group called the “child savers” began advocating for more appropriate treatment of children who commit crime, arguing that the justice system should protect and rehabilitate rather than punish juveniles. They claimed that society could control juvenile delinquency if it attacked its causes—namely, poor education, poor morals, and poor standards of behavior—thus alerting juveniles to their wrongdoings in society. The child savers, mostly women, were self-proclaimed altruists and humanitarians who focused on protecting the interests of all children in ...