Chelsea Dunn


Underlying the juvenile court system are two competing philosophies of justice which have taken predominance over the system at different historical periods in relation to the public climate. Early reformers conceptualized juvenile justice as an informal and protective system that would seek to rehabilitate disadvantaged children who had succumbed to criminal influences. In response to negative assessments noting the leniency of juvenile courts, critics began to advocate for a more punitive system which would focus on retribution rather than treatment. Measures adopted by courts to increase the criminal responsibility placed upon juveniles include minimum sentencing guidelines and transfer of offenders to criminal courts.1 Today, however, many express concerns about the harsh treatment of transferred juveniles and the negative effects of transfer on the psychological well-being of minors. The more often transfer is utilized, the more often juveniles will be sentenced to incarceration in adult facilities. Such dispositions have far-reaching implications for the future of juvenile crime and recidivism rates, especially in light of the minimal options for counseling, education, and training in adult correctional centers. Adolescents comprise an impressionable population that should be protected by the justice system; yet, today's juvenile courts seem to be depriving more and more juvenile offenders of the only chance they have at rehabilitation