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What was the social and historical context in which the juvenile court was created What has been the fundamental difference between the procedures used in juvenile courts and those employed in criminal adult courts Juvenile Court authority charged with the disposition of legal actions involving children One hundred years ago the Illinois legislature enacted the Illinois Juvenile Court Act 1899 Ill Laws 132 et seq creating the first separate juvenile court The policy debates raging around the country in this centennial year1899 however make it uncertain whether the traditional juvenile court will prevail Early in the 19th century juveniles were tried along with adults in criminal courts In common law children under age 7 were conclusively presumed immune from prosecution because they lacked moral responsibility the infancy defense Children between ages 7 and 14 were presumed not to be criminally responsible and prosecutors had to prove that an individual juvenile was culpable Youth age 14 and older were deemed as responsible for their criminal acts as adults Despite the laws effort to temper the severity of trying and punishing children as adults young children were sometimes sentenced to prison and occasionally to death The first institution expressly for juveniles the House of Refuge was founded in New York City in 1824 so that institutionalized delinquents could be kept apart from adult criminals Prior to 1900 at least 10 children were executed in the United States for crimes committed before their 14th birthdays Other children died in adult prisons Virginia penitentiary records from 1876 reflect that a 10-year-old prisoner died from being scalded accidentally in a tub of boiling coffee These deaths shocked the public conscience Accordingly Americans in the 19th century sought more pervasive reform than the infancy defense to address the distinctive nature of children and youth Juvenile Courts were conceived at the turn of the century to end the long-standing practice of trying and imprisoning children side by side with
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