Book Review

Sociologist Simon Singer draws upon the experiences of a single jurisdiction (New York State) to examine the most prominent trend in contemporary juvenile crime policy-the transfer of young offenders to criminal court, where they can be tried as adults. Nearly every state legislature, the U.S. Congress, and virtually all candidates for elected office now embrace criminal-court transfer as a necessary keystone of juvenile crime policy.

Can we do Without Juvenile Justice?

A compelling argument can be made for abolishing the juvenile justice system, or more specifically, abolishing delinquency, the idea that young offenders aren’t fully responsible for their behavior and should be handled in a separate court system. Abolishing delinquency is not the same thing as abolishing the entire juvenile court. Even if lawmakers ended the juvenile court’s jurisdiction over criminal law violations, the juvenile court could continue to handle other types of cases (e.g., abused and neglected children, truants, curfew violations). In fact, youthful offenders could continue to be handled by the same judges in the same courtrooms that handle them now, but the courts would operate as youth divisions of a criminal court using criminal procedures under the criminal code.

What is Juvenile Justice?

After years of studying and working in the field of juvenile justice, I found a simple, graphic portrayal of the complex philosophies and theories underlying U.S. juvenile justice policy. This one image captures the essence of research, law, and policy thinking that has led to our current legal approach for intervening with young offenders.