Policy Networks and the Juvenile Court: The Reform of Youth Justice, c. 1905-1950
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This article examines in detail the construction of government policy for juvenile courts during the first half of the twentieth century. The Children Act 1908 required that criminal charges against children and young persons be heard by a court sitting at a different time or in a different place from the summary court hearings held for adults. Later government legislation (for London, in 1920) and guidance (for the rest of England and Wales) added that children's cases should be dealt with by specially selected justices, specifically chosen for their knowledge and understanding of young people. Drawing on policy networks theory, the article argues that the detailed application of these policies and the subsequent development of the juvenile court was developed by the Home Office in conjunction with a policy network made up of three main elements: the labour movement, particularly the Labour Party; pressure groups connected with penal reform and child welfare; and feminist women's organisations. A detailed analysis of discussions surrounding the passage of the 1920 Juvenile Courts (Metropolis) Bill reveals the tactics and strength of this network in defeating the objections of another powerful lobby – the Metropolitan Magistrates – to the Bill's main proposal, the introduction of specialist juvenile courts in London, staffed by lay-people alongside the qualified lawyers, to provide a dedicated form of justice for the youth of the capital.
Logan, A. (2009) 'Policy Networks and the Juvenile Court: The Reform of Youth Justice, c. 1905-1950', Crimes and Misdemeanours: Deviance and the Law in Historical Perspective, 3(2), pp.18-36. Available at: https://pearl.plymouth.ac.uk/handle/10026.1/8842
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