Please join us for a presentation by Professor Barry Feld titled,
“Race, Politics, and the Criminalizing of Juvenile Justice: Changing Conceptions of Adolescents’ Competence and Culpability“
Co-hosted by the Department of Criminology, Law and Society
This event is free and open to the public. Please join us for a reception following Professor Feld’s presentation.
Please RSVP by NOON on Monday March 12, 2018 at: https://cls.soceco.uci.edu/webforms/march-15-2018-barry-feld-book-talk
Copies of Professor Feld’s book about race, politics and the criminalizing of juvenile justice are available on loan from the CLS reception desk, SEII, 2nd floor.
Date: March 15, 2018
Location: University of California, Irvine campus, SBSG 1517
This event has been approved for a 2 hour MCLE credit.
The juvenile court lies at the intersection of youth policy and crime policy. Its institutional practices reflect changing ideas about children and crime control. How should the legal system respond when the kid is a criminal and the criminal is a kid? How and why do we think about children and criminals as we do and how have changes in these ideas affected juvenile justice policy? Since its creation a century ago, the juvenile court has evolved through four periods – Progressive Era, Due Process Era, Get Tough Era, and contemporary Kids Are Different Era. In each period, juvenile justice policies have reflected different views about children, crime control, race, and appropriate ways to address youths’ misconduct.
In each period, changes in economy, cities, families, race and ethnicity, and politics have shaped juvenile courts’ policies and practices. Changes in juvenile courts’ ends and means—substance and procedure—reflect shifting notions of children’s culpability and competence. Two competing social constructions of adolescents influence policies toward young offenders. Judges and law makers may characterize them as children – immature and vulnerable – or as quasi-adults – mature and responsible. Strategies of crime control – retribution, deterrence, incapacitation, and rehabilitation – rest on assumptions about the causes of people’s wrong-doing. Competing conceptions of childhood and crime control affect juvenile courts’ substantive goals – delinquency dispositions, transfer to criminal courts, and sentencing as adults – and their procedural means – police interrogation, adjudicative competence, access to counsel, and right to a jury.
Youths’ ethnicity, race, and gender have shaped juvenile justice policies. In the early twentieth century, Progressive reformers created juvenile courts to assimilate and acculturate waves of European immigrants’ children. By mid-century, legal and political responses to the Great Migration of African Americans had two distinct manifestations. During the 1950s and 1960s, the Supreme Court imposed equality norms on Southern states that embraced a segregated Jim Crow legal system and issued landmark juvenile court decisions – Gault, Winship, and McKeiver. An almost immediate backlash to Blacks’ civil rights gains began as Republican politicians pursued a Southern strategy, used crime and welfare as wedge issues to appeal to white voters’ racial animus, and advocated get tough policies that have exacerbated racial disparities in juvenile justice. While conservative politicians advocated get tough policies that equated children with adults, more recent Supreme Court decisions – J.D.B., Roper, Graham, and Miller – draw on developmental psychology and neuroscience research to bolster its conclusions about youths’ reduced criminal responsibility and diminished competence. Ultimately, however, providing justice for children requires structural changes to reduce social and economic inequality—concentrated poverty in segregated urban areas—that disproportionately expose children of color to juvenile courts’ punitive policies.
Barry C. Feld joined the University of Minnesota Law School faculty in September, 1972. He has been Associate Professor, Julius E. Davis Professor, Professor of Law, and since 1990, the Centennial Professor of Law, an endowed chair. Feld received his B.A. in psychology, University of Pennsylvania, 1966; his Juris Doctor degree, magna cum laude, University of Minnesota Law School, 1969; and his Ph.D. in sociology, Harvard University, 1973. Feld has written eleven books and more than one hundred law review and peer-reviewed criminology articles and book chapters on juvenile justice. His most recent book is The Evolution of the Juvenile Court: Race, Politics, and the Criminalizing of Juvenile Justice (NYU Press 2017). His scholarship has been cited by more than one hundred state and federal courts including the United States Supreme Court.