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Juvenile Justice System The problem of how to deal with juvenile offenders has plagued society since before the establishment of the first juvenile court in 1899 Prior to that development delinquent juveniles were processed through the adult court and often received harsh punishment By 1945 separate juvenile courts existed in every state Like the adult system throughout most of the 20th century the juvenile justice system was based upon a medicalrehabilitative model The original goals of the juvenile court were to investigate diagnose and prescribe treatment for offenders not to adjudicate guilt or fix blame The court operated under the doctrine of parens patriae that meant that the state would step in and act as a parent on behalf of a misbehaving juvenile Proceedings were informal and a juvenile court judge had an enormous amount of discretion in the disposition of juvenile cases much like the discretion afforded judges in adult criminal settings until the 1970s In line with the early juvenile courts philosophy of protecting youth juvenile offenders placement was often in reformatories or training schools that were designed in theory to keep them away from the bad influences of society and to instill self-control through rigorous structure and harsh discipline Contrary to the underlying theory throughout the first part of the century the institutions that housed juveniles were often dangerous and unhealthy places where the state warehoused delinquent neglected and abandoned children for indefinite periods Common problems included lack of medical care rehabilitation programs and even food Some poor conditions persist even today Although institutionalization of many juvenile offenders occurred in the first decades of the 1900s extensive use of probation for juveniles existed as well As it does today probation provided a middle ground disposition for judges between release and placement in an institution By 1927 probation programs for juvenile offenders existed in almost every state In the 1940s and 1950s reformers attempted to improve the conditions found in most juvenile
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