The U.S. Juvenile Justice Policy Landscape

Willison, Janeen B., Daniel P. Mears, and Jeffrey A. Butts (2011). The U.S. Juvenile Justice Policy Landscape. In U.S. Criminal Justice Policy: A Contemporary Reader. Karim Ismaili (Editor). Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett Learning, Inc.

The diverse mix of policies and practices introduced in recent years raises important questions about the posture of juvenile justice today. Most scholars agree that decades of “get-tough” reforms diminished the influence of the juvenile court (Bernard, 2006; Butts & Mears, 2001; Fagan, 2008; Scott & Steinberg, 2008). Many contend that these changes rendered the criminal (adult) and juvenile justice systems largely indistinguishable (Butts & Mitchell, 2000; Feld, 1993). Recent research, however, calls these claims into question (Bishop, 2006) and suggests that rehabilitation remains a critical goal for juvenile justice professionals (Buck Willison et al. 2008).

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