Juvenile Justice and Social Policy
Juveniles are accorded special status under the American legal system. This introductory course will examine the historical precedents and philosophical reasons for treating juveniles differently from adults, and review empirical evidence about child development that can illuminate the reasons for their special status within the court system. Students will learn about the distribution of juvenile delinquency and the impact of significant social and institutional influences on delinquency: family, school, peers, and drugs. The course will also provide a detailed overview of the juvenile system, from its beginning to the current state of the institution, which will include a review of police work with juveniles, pretrial procedures, and the juvenile court and corrections systems. Major court rulings that have shaped contemporary juvenile justice will be presented. Finally, the course will consider dispositional options available to Courts, and will identify the most effective in reducing delinquency. By the conclusion of this course, students should have an understanding of the juvenile justice system and how it compares with the adult justice system, what programs work to reduce recidivism, and be cognizant of some of the major legal and policy issues confronting that system today. The course format will combine lecture, group discussions, and guest presentations. Students may also have the opportunity to observe the juvenile justice system first hand by attending a juvenile court session, visiting a correctional facility for adjudicated delinquents, and hearing directly from those who work with high-risk youth on probation or in the community. Written Work. Each student will write four reflection papers, 5-7 pages each (about 1,700 words) over the quarter. Due dates will be listed in the class syllabus. Elements used in grading: Final grades will be based on the four reflection papers (20% each) and class participation (20%). This course is open to 2Ls, and 3Ls in the Law School.