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Journal Issue: The Juvenile Court Volume 6 Number 3 Winter 1996

The Court's Effectiveness in Protecting the Rights of Juveniles in Delinquency Cases
Janet E. Ainsworth


During the 1960s and 1970s, the Supreme Court issued a number of decisions guaranteeing certain procedural rights to juveniles. This article assesses the impact of these decisions on the actual practices of the delinquency jurisdiction of the juvenile court. Studies show that, by and large, the procedural mandates have not been met. A key example is the fact that a significant percentage of juveniles still do not receive effective legal representation.

This article also explores the potential disadvantages to juveniles of no constitutional right to a jury trial in juvenile court, waivers into the adult criminal court system, and diversion programs. Because of the juvenile court's resistance to reform, a number of juvenile justice scholars are advocating the abolition of its jurisdiction over delinquency cases. The article concludes with various viewpoints on this current controversy.