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The Supreme Court and Juvenile Justice

Christopher P. Manfredi

New in Paperback: March 2000
xvi, 256 pages, 618 x 914
Paper ISBN 978-0-7006-1028-0, $15.95

Also available in cloth
ISBN 978-0-7006-0851-5, $35.00

Book Cover ImageOver the past century, attitudes toward juvenile crime have alternated between rehabilitation and crime control, and even now are being revised in reponse to increasing gang violence. But by the 1960s, it had become obvious that juvenile offenders were being deprived of fundamental rights, leading Supreme Court Justice Fortas to declare that "neither the Fourteenth Amendment nor the Bill of Rights is for adults alone."

The Supreme Court and Juvenile Justice takes in a century of change to focus on how the Supreme Court brought the juvenile court system under constitutional control. It describes in detail the case of Gerald Gault, an Arizona teenager who was sent to reform school for making an obscene phone call. Christopher Manfredi takes readers behind the scenes in this case to review its progress through the judicial system, discuss all pertinent briefs, and analyze the Supreme Court's 1967 decision that Gault had been denied due process.

As background to Gault, Manfredi also examines Kent v. United States (1966), which involved a juvenile accused of rape and robbery who was handed over to criminal court. He then reviews the significant cases following Gault--notably In re Winship (1970) and McKeiver v. Pennsylvania (1971)--and considers how the Supreme Court's "constitutional domestication" of juvenile courts affected further development of juvenile justice policy.

In re Gault was the first and most extensive decision imposing constitutionally-derived standards of due process on juvenile courts; yet it has received little attention in the literature because of its lack of drama and visibility. In showing how juvenile court reform became part of the constitutional agenda of the 1960s, Manfredi demonstrates why Gault became the principal vehicle for carrying out that reform and provides a means for better understanding the nature and limitations of social reform litigation.

"Manfredi looks at the evolution of the juvenile justice system from the standpoint of legal realism and finds that, realistically, the Supreme Court has less of an ability to foster legal and social change than some of its justices, and many advocacy groups, would like. Focusing on three key cases--Kent, Gault, and Winship--he tells a tale of changing perspectives, clashing agendas, missed opportunities, and the misuse of precedent and various documentary sources by justices intent on justifying a particular outcome."--National Law Journal

"Essential reading for anyone interested in juvenile justice or the process of criminal procedure litigation. Manfredi is an outstanding storyteller."--Perspectives on Political Science

"This is an illuminating examination of what happens when courts attempt to reform institutions. Manfredi gets inside the litigation process in a way that few commentators have, and he recounts the criminalization of the juvenile justice system that followed the Supreme Court's well-intentioned reforming efforts with keen insight and a sense of irony. It is a gripping tale, very well told."--Donald L. Horowitz, author of The Courts and Social Policy

"Manfredi spins a good tale and places that tale within a well-defined framework. Readers will come away with a good deal of substantive information about both the juvenile justice movement and Court doctrine in this area. An interesting and useful book for political scientists and legal scholars."--Lee Epstein, coauthor of Constitutional Law for a Changing America

"Manfredi makes an important contribution to dealing with the continually vexing problem of juvenile crime."--Sanford Fox, author of Modern Juvenile Justice

CHRISTOPHER P. MANFREDI is associate professor of political science at McGill University and the author of Judicial Power and the Charter: Canada and the Paradox of Liberal Constitutionalism.

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