Juvenile Courts: Reformers in Crisis

The grand ideal of U.S. juvenile courts is that errant children are best handled by informal "civil" proceedings rather than stigmatized by criminal trials. In theory, youngsters cannot be accused or convicted of adult crimes. When adjudged delinquent, they may be put on probation and doctored by social workers, or sent to training schools for "rehabilitation"—all supposedly in their own best interests. In fact, the ideal is now under heavy fire.

As they have shielded youngsters from the rigors of the adversary system, juvenile courts have operated farther and farther outside the...

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