The Political And Economic Context Of Juvenile Justice Essay

1102 Words Apr 3rd, 2015 5 Pages
The Political and Economic Context of Juvenile Justice in America
At the beginning of the 1800’s, juveniles were treated no differently than adults. They were arrested, tried, and punished no differently than adults. English common law is the basis of the American justice system but did not provide for differential treatment of juvenile offenders. Youthful offenders were treated the same as anyone else and were subject to harsh corporal and capital punishment. However, the manner in which delinquent behavior by youth offenders is much different today. Many changes have occurred since the 1800’s which shaped our approach to handling delinquent youth.
1800 through 1900
In the 1800’s, children were often viewed as property and sold by their parents to wealthy businessmen. Children often entered the workforce at very young ages and were even put to death for crimes as young as seven years old (McMahon, 2007). During the 1800’s an ideological shift occurred where debates settled the idea that adolescent was a unique stage of development. The idea that youth should be treated differently than their adult counterparts soon emerged. However many of the problems youth caused were not necessarily considered crimes. Many times, youth were simply wayward youth who were homeless and hungry. The first house of refuge opened in New York in 1825 to house, feed, and educate youth (Fox, 1970). The New York House of Refuge was, in many ways, much like an orphanage. Youth were housed together…

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