This book will expand students’ knowledge and understanding of the evolution of juvenile justice in the last 50 years. Designed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the landmark case In re Gault, which the U.S. Supreme Court decided in 1967, the authors provide a brief history of juvenile justice, then frame the developments and transformations that have occurred in the intervening years. Topics covered include an overview of the dramatic changes to the field following the spike in youth violence in the 1990s, the "superpredator" myth, zero-tolerance policies, and sanctions for juvenile offenders—particularly the 2005 abolition of the death penalty and subsequent decision on life without parole. The book also covers child and youth victimization and trauma, and recent prevention and treatment initiatives.
Designed for upper-level undergraduates, this text reflects on the evolving U.S. juvenile justice system while anticipating future challenges and trends. Reaffirming Juvenile Justice illustrates how ideology, media, and politics shape policy and how it can evolve.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 Developing the Juvenile Justice System
Chapter 2 Demonization of Youth and Politicization of Juvenile Justice
Chapter 3 Court Decisions: From In re Gault to Montgomery v. Louisiana
Chapter 4 From Superpredator to Traumatized Youth
Chapter 5 Creating Sanctuary and Treating Trauma
Chapter 6 Challenges in Reaffirming Juvenile Justice
Alida V. Merlo is a Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP), where she joined the faculty in 1995. Previously, she taught for 20 years at Westfield State University in Massachusetts. Dr. Merlo received her Ph.D. from Fordham University, M.S. from Northeastern University, and B.A. from Youngstown State University. She conducts research and publishes in the areas of juvenile justice, women and the law, and criminal justice policy. She is the co-author (with Peter J. Benekos and Dean J. Champion) of The Juvenile Justice System: Delinquency, Processing, and the Law, 8th edition, and (with Peter J. Benekos) of Crime Control, Politics and Policy, 2nd edition, and co-editor (with Peter J. Benekos) of Controversies in Juvenile Justice and Delinquency, 2nd edition, and (with Joycelyn M. Pollock) of Women, Law, and Social Control, 2nd edition. She is a past-president of the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences and the recipient of the ACJS Fellow and Founder’s Awards, and the Minorities and Women’s Section Coramae Richey Mann Leadership Award. Prior to her career in academia, she was a Juvenile Probation Officer and Intake Supervisor for the Mahoning County Juvenile Court in Youngstown, Ohio. Merlo was selected as IUP Distinguished University Professor in 2020–21.
Peter J. Benekos is Professor Emeritus of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Mercyhurst University in Erie, Pennsylvania. He was a Visiting Professor at Roger Williams University School of Justice Studies. Dr. Benekos earned his Ph.D. from the University of Akron, M.A. from University of Cincinnati, and B.S. from Clarion University. He has conducted research in the areas of juvenile justice, corrections, and public policy. He is the co-author (with Alida V. Merlo and Dean Champion) of The Juvenile Justice System: Delinquency, Processing, and the Law, 8th edition, and (with Alida V. Merlo) of Crime Control, Politics and Policy, 2nd edition, and co-editor (with Alida V. Merlo) of Controversies in Juvenile Justice and Delinquency, 2nd edition. He is recipient of the 2012 Founder’s Award and the 2011 Outstanding Mentor Award presented by the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences. Dr. Benekos is a past-president of the Northeastern Association of Criminal Justice Sciences and is a Trustee of the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences.
Alida Merlo and Peter Benekos provide a compelling account of how science, ideology, and politics have shaped the evolution of juvenile justice policy. In a comprehensive and compassionate way, they illuminate the mistakes of the past as a way of showing progressive avenues for future reform. Scholarly but accessible, Reaffirming Juvenile Justice is both an essential reference book and ideal for courses focusing on wayward youths. --Francis T. Cullen, Distinguished Research Professor Emeritus, University of Cincinnati
Fifty years after the landmark Gault decision revolutionized juvenile justice, Merlo and Benekos undertake a sweeping and comprehensive review of that system. Reaffirming Juvenile Justice powerfully documents legal decisions and key policy debates in the decades that followed. A must-read for those concerned about how the United States treats its most vulnerable youth. --Meda Chesney-Lind, Professor of Women's Studies, University of Hawaii at Manoa
Much has happened since the Gault case was decided some fifty years ago—so much so that it can be hard to keep up with the relevant research and case law spanning multiple disciplines. Fortunately, Merlo and Benekos have done us a huge favor. This book situates the recent developments amidst a backdrop of juvenile justice issues, summarizing key developments, and anticipating the future. From scholars whose careers have been focused on key policy questions, I have no doubt you will learn as much as I have in reading this book. --Alex R. Piquero, Ashbel Smith Professor, The University of Texas at Dallas
Reaffirming Juvenile Justice: From Gault to Montgomery is a well written and informative textbook. The authors provide an in-depth and comprehensive coverage of a range of issues including constitutionality, culpability, and system responses facing the juvenile justice system as well as challenges such as legal defense, disproportionate minority youth contact/involvement with the system, and conditions and the length of confinement. Couched within a historical context, the discussion of the role(s) that political ideology and the media play into the construction of the imagery of youth further sheds light on the complexities involved in the responses to and treatment of juvenile delinquents. A must read! --Michael Leiber, Professor in Criminology, University of South Florida