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Juvenile Justice at a Crossroads: Science, Evidence, and Twenty-First Century Reform

Laura S. Abrams
Social Service Review
Vol. 87, No. 4 (December 2013), pp. 725-752
DOI: 10.1086/674074
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/674074
Page Count: 28
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Juvenile Justice at a Crossroads: Science, Evidence, and Twenty-First Century Reform
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Abstract

AbstractOver a century after its founding, the juvenile justice system sits at an important historical juncture. Mounting concern that the juvenile justice system has strayed from its mission of rehabilitation has catalyzed a vocal campaign for large-scale policy reforms. The current reform movement invokes an abundance of scientific discourses, including neuroscience and evidence-based practice, to situate their arguments for a more humane, cost-effective, and youth-specific system. This article situates the contemporary discussion concerning juvenile justice reform in relation to the historical uses of science in debates concerning the optimal way to contend with youth crime. The author suggests that social workers ought to play a more visible role in decisions concerning juvenile justice law, policy, and practice, given the ethical dilemmas involved in these new scientific discourses and the important changes likely to emerge from the current systems change movement.

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