Copyright (c) 1997 Northwestern School of Law
Journal of Criminal Law & Criminology
SYMPOSIUM ON THE FUTURE OF THE JUVENILE COURT: JUSTICE FOR CHILDREN: HOW DO WE GET THERE?
88 J. Crim. L. & Criminology 190
THOMAS F. GERAGHTY *
A. THE CONTEXT
This article is the response of a lawyer who represents children charged with crimes in juvenile court to those who call for the abolition of the juvenile court 1 and for placing increased criminal responsibility upon delinquent youth. 2 I argue that the juvenile court and the juvenile justice system (including community-based support programs for children and families) should be retained after being reinvigorated with both financial and human resources. 3 These investments will allow the juvenile courts to perform credibly - even when dealing with the relatively few "serious" or "violent" offenders who now pass through our juvenile justice system.
I make this argument because I see daily the tragic impact of the criminalization of the juvenile court and referral of my clients to criminal court and believe that this trend does not serve victims or society at-large. The acts of a very few children and their access to guns drive the campaign for "get tough" measures which include increased transfer of youth to criminal court and, tragically, the marginalization of juvenile courts. 4 In the course of representing the increasingly young children who find themselves in jeopardy of becoming defendants in criminal court, 5 I learn about their experiences and about what has brought them to this tragic point. I do not claim that this perspective is unique or that it should be the only perspective considered in this debate. But it is an important perspective that has heretofore ...
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