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

The Future of the Juvenile Court: A Theoretical Framework That Fits
Mark H. Moore


The juvenile court has been subject to increasing criticism over the years, particularly with regard to its handling of delinquency cases. This is in part the result of an inaccurate view of the court as primarily a criminal court that adjudicates crimes committed by children. This article proposes an alternative model for the court, one that encompasses its jurisdiction over dependency and status offense cases, as well as delinquency cases.

In describing this new conception of the juvenile court, an analogy is made to a "bankruptcy" court that intervenes when family members violate the laws regulating their relationships to one another. This new juvenile court would not take direct responsibility for the rehabilitation of child or family. Instead, it would use its power to hold private and public caretakers accountable for fulfilling their roles as supervisors and habilitators of children. The article concludes by exploring the advantages and potential disadvantages of this new vision of the juvenile court.