Master of Liberal Studies Research Papers

Date of Award


Document Type

Research Paper

Degree Name

Master of Liberal Studies (MLS)


At the tail end of the 19th Century, a new and unique concept of a specialized institution for the treatment of juveniles within the legal system emerged within the fabric of American society. This institution became known as the Juvenile Justice System. Today, juvenile justice systems are in place within many countries; and while some developed prior to the birth of the American juvenile justice system, many were developed with the American system as a foundational blueprint. Ironically, given the importance of being a unique concept that influenced several justice institutions world wide, very little instruction pertaining to the American juvenile justice system can be found within undergraduate criminology and criminal justice curriculums. Only slightly more can be found within graduate programs. This irony is increased, too, when one considers that most crime is committed by adolescents; one would think more emphasis would be placed on understanding the juvenile justice system. This paper is an attempt to do just that by taking a look at some of the current literature pertaining to the juvenile justice system through different lenses. First, an etiological perspective is presented over the epochs of juvenile justice. Second, a developmental perspective is presented over how the biological and psychological differences in youths from adults require specialized treatment for juvenile justice. Third, a civil infringement perspective is presented over gender, ethnic, and racial biases intrinsic to the juvenile justice system. Fourth, an ideological perspective is presented over the effectiveness of continuing adjudication within juvenile courts verses transfer to criminal courts. Finally, a personal perspective is presented from a juvenile court judge's career in dealing with troubled youths. The essay concludes with a discussion synthesizing each perspective into one overall view of the juvenile justice system. Throughout the essay, the terms youth, juvenile, and adolescent can be used interchangeably; as well as the terms offender and delinquent.


Copyright 2010 Alex Dean


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