Description: Research indicates that states have implemented juvenile justice reforms to enact harsher punishments, to transfer greater numbers and younger juvenile offenders to adult criminal court, and to restrict discretion of the juvenile court judges. Social science studies have found that harsher punishments, transfers to adult criminal court and other measures do not work, but that comprehensive approaches which address the numerous major factors contributing to juvenile offending have been successful. This study examined the legal status of the juvenile justice system by focusing upon ten diverse sample states and analyzed the social science research on factors contributing to juvenile offending and on prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation approaches. The study was accomplished by legal research, qualitative social science research, and analysis of both. Findings indicated: a) state statutes require and allow adult punishment of juvenile offenders, transfer of juvenile offenders to adult criminal court, and direct filing of charges against juveniles in adult criminal court; most states begin these proceedings at age 14, some have no age minimum; b) social science research indicates numerous factors contribute to juvenile offending with most of the factors categorized into the major factors of early antisocial behavior, deviant peers, parents and family, sociomoral reasoning, biological factors, and violence which interact with each other creating a complicated web; and c) prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation efforts should be comprehensive, multidimensional and multimodal addressing the interacting major factors contributing to juvenile offending and the needs of the juvenile, the family, and the home environment. Implications include the need for legislators to access the social science research to craft legislation and programs which are effective. Suggestions for improvement include collaboration within communities and with knowledgeable and committed social science professionals and educators. Areas suggested for further research include education of the public, the media, and stakeholders; long term follow-up ...
Date: December 2000
Creator: Youngblood, Michelle K.
Item Type: Thesis or Dissertation