Juvenile Law & Policy Seminar
For over a century this country has wrestled with how to treat youth in the juvenile justice system. This struggle centers on the tension between recognizing youth as developmentally distinct from adults, thus deserving of second chances and rehabilitative services, and historically and culturally driven notions of accountability, justice, and safety. This course will explore this tension and examine how that internal struggle has shaped the building of the juvenile justice system as a separate legal institution governed by unique criminal law, procedure, and policy. Students will gain an in-depth understanding of juvenile justice from both policy and legal perspectives through analyzing case decisions, social science research, legal theory, and empirical studies. During this course the class will probe questions such as: What does juvenile justice look like? How does the social construction of adolescence impact legal definitions? What role do the advances in science on brain development play in the administration of juvenile justice? How has race, gender, and class impacted juvenile courts’ jurisprudence? What factors have influenced the court’s ever shifting understanding of culpability by age? Where are the overlaps and intersections between the juvenile justice and adult criminal justice systems?