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Juvenile Justice System Structure and Process

Overview

The first juvenile court in the United States was established in Chicago in 1899, more than 100 years ago. During the last 30 years, the juvenile justice system has weathered significant modifications. Perceptions of a juvenile crime epidemic in the early 1990s fueled public scrutiny of the systemís ability to effectively control violent juvenile offenders. As a result, states have adopted numerous legislative changes in an effort to crack down on juvenile crime.

This section describes the juvenile justice system, focusing on structure and process features that relate to delinquency and status offense matters. Topics covered in this section include a history of the juvenile court, significant Supreme Court decisions that have shaped the modern juvenile justice system, and comparisons between juvenile and criminal court processing. In addition, this section summarizes changes made by states with regard to the systemís jurisdictional authority, sentencing, corrections programming, confidentiality of records and court hearings, and victim involvement in court hearings.

Much of the information presented in this section was drawn from the National Center for Juvenile Justiceís analysis of juvenile codes in each state.

 

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