IS PROCEDURAL JUSTICE RELEVANT FOR JUVENILE OFFENDERS?
The juvenile offender is uniquely situated in the American legal system. No longer a child, but not yet a legal adult, the adolescent is caught in a limbo of sorts that has stumped policy-makers for decades. At the turn of the twentieth century, a separate juvenile justice system was established to tend to the needs of these youth, and its identity has been in a state of flux ever since. From an initial model of paternal rehabilitation to the current more punitive approach, the juvenile justice system has struggled to establish and maintain a clear identity. At the heart of all this change lies a series of questions about what the role of the court can and should be in promoting positive development in the lives of juvenile offenders, and in protecting society from criminal activity. In order to move forward in addressing both of these goals, it becomes necessary to understand the evolution that has brought the juvenile justice system to its current state, and to pursue a greater understanding of the ways in which the system itself influences the youth who interact with it.
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