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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