The Law: Delinquent, Without Doubt

JUVENILE COURTS

Delinquent, Without Doubt

"Guilty beyond reasonable doubt." That cornerstone tenet of U.S. criminal justice has safeguarded many an innocent man—but rarely an innocent boy. In most states, whether a child is adjudged delinquent depends on the way the "preponderance of evidence" strikes the judge handling the case. In other words, if the child seems slightly more guilty than not, the judge can order him sent to a training school. The reason : juvenile courts were originally conceived as places where children would be helped, not punished. But the practice has...

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