The Continuing Cycle of Juvenile Justice

Thomas J. Bernard, The Pennsylvania State University
Jeffrey Butts, The Urban Institute

In "The Cycle of Juvenile Justice" (1992) Bernard described juvenile justice policy occurring in repeated waves of leniency, toughness, and leniency once again. The cycle shifted several times during the 19th and 20th Centuries. Recent events suggest that juvenile justice policy may be again entering an important phase of philosophical and strategic adaptations. Nearly ten years of falling crime, the profound fiscal problems facing state and local governments, and changes in policy priorities may be precipitating a resurgence of more rehabilitative, less punitive approaches to juvenile crime. This paper examines these developments and considers potential future directions for American juvenile justice.

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Updated 05/20/2006