This book describes the historical roots of American juvenile courts and the development of court philosophy and appellate case law over the past century, tracing developments in the courts, legislatures, and juvenile institutions.
After discussing events surrounding the court's formation, Watkins details specific court operations through case decisions and statutory enactments, as well as academic and social commentary regarding the court throughout the twentieth century. Special attention is given to the 1960s era and the U.S. Supreme Court decisions of that decade that have shaped the contemporary juvenile justice system.
The "recriminalization" of the juvenile court from the mid-1970s is reviewed, along with socio-cultural factors that have spurred such a change in court philosophy. The book also discusses the issue of capital punishment for juveniles and the pro and con arguments for death-eligibility for minors under age eighteen. The concluding chapter discusses the future of the so-called "post-modern" juvenile court and suggests ways in which the institution may be saved from itself.
“Beginning with a thorough discussion of sociolegal foundations of the juvenile court system, Watkins examines key issues...and develops a comprehensive understanding of parens patriae and treatment orientation… An important book with an excellent bibliography.” — CHOICE Magazine