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Synopsis

From the preface: "History has dealt the juvenile court (and, more broadly, the juvenile justice system) a cruel blow. What began as a promising social experiment has disappointed nearly everyone... Inevitably, disillusionment has weakened the mandate of the juvenile justice system. Conflicts in philosophy, once held at bay by general enthusiasm for the enterprise, have now surfaced with great urgency. What, in fact, is the purpose of the juvenile justice system? Is it to protect the community from youth crime, or to help children grow up? Is it primarily a court dominated by concerns for justice? Or, is it more fundamentally a social service agency concerned with structuring the environments of children? Is the court an independent institution that stands apart from the community and administers justice in a fair and impartial way? Or, is the court an agent of the community in the sense that it establishes norms of conduct and draws both public and private agencies to the tasks of socializing children?"

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