I. The history of juvenile crime and punishment in America
A. All the way back to the early European Settlers
1. They believed children 7-13 yrs. old understood the difference between right and wrong
2. Could be punished severely for crimes as minor as disrespect to their parents
3. Many children were put in adult prisons
4. Adolescents 14 yrs and up were regarded strictly as adults. Some sentenced to death.
B. Young offenders treated as adults continued through the 18th century
C. The 19th century people began to feel compassion for juveniles.
D. In 1899 thefirst juvenile court system was established in Cook County, IL
1. For those of you unfamiliar, this is one of the harshest counties in the United States.
E. The downside to thesefirst juvenile courts
1. Not tried by a jury
2. Not provided defense lawyers
3. Decision solely based on the judge's opinion.
4. This type of court system, was more like social work than a juvenile court
II. A century ago, when the US created thefirst juvenile court system lawmakers recognized that youthful offenders differ from adult criminals.
A. According to psychologists
1. Young people act more impulsively
2. In a recent article entitled "Recent Brain Studies" it indicates that children and adolescents process intense emotional situations in the part of the brain that is responsible for instinct and gut reaction. While adult's process information using their more rational frontal section of the brain
3. This suggests juveniles lack the cognitive and emotional maturity of adults
4. Young people also give into peer pressure more easily
5. Because of their youth, chances of rehabilitation are much greater
B. Because of all these reasons, children are prevented from certain things including:
1. Drinking Age-21
2. Buying/Smoking Cigarettes-18
6. Gun Ownership-18