What was the social and historical context in which the juvenile court was created?

2464 WordsOct 10, 200310 Pages
What was the social and historical context in which the juvenile court was created? What has been the fundamental difference between the procedures used in juvenile courts and those employed in criminal (adult) courts? Juvenile Court, authority charged with the disposition of legal actions involving children. One hundred years ago, the Illinois legislature enacted the Illinois Juvenile Court Act (1899 Ill. Laws 132 et seq.), creating the first separate juvenile court. The policy debates raging around the country in this centennial year(1899), however, make it uncertain whether the traditional juvenile court will prevail. Early in the 19th century, juveniles were tried along with adults in criminal courts. In common law, children under…show more content…
In most jurisdictions, there were no transcripts, no formal presentations of evidence, no cross-examination of witnesses, and no right of appeal. The intent of all this was to remove procedural and legal obstacles, so that the court could quickly move in to protect a child in danger. The high court scrapped the informal nature of juvenile justice, one in a series of rulings that ultimately conferred all the same legal rights on juveniles as adults possess (except for the right to a trial by a jury of one's peers, for obvious reasons). In other words, the unanticipated result of the Supreme Court's Gault decision was to shift the focus of Juvenile Court from the child to the facts of the crime the child committed. Only after the legal issues are dealt with, after many weeks, months, or sometimes years pass, does the court belatedly turn its attention toward what should be done to help a child -- far too late in many cases. The child's rights are protected, but the child is not. And given the fact that most accused juveniles remain free while their cases slowly pass through the system, society is not protected, either. The problems inherent in this shift in focus are now coming to a head as youth violence has reached crisis proportions. In recent years, with juveniles increasingly responsible for major and violent crimes, public sentiment in
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