Merlo, a professor in Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s Department of
Criminology and Criminal Justice, is co-author of a recently released book
about the juvenile justice system.
book, “Reaffirming Juvenile Justice: From Gault to Montgomery” coincides with
the 50th anniversary of the landmark case “In re Gault,” which mandated
specific due process protections for youth alleged to be delinquent. The book
considers the evolving U.S. juvenile justice system while anticipating future
challenges and trends.
attended a gala sponsored by the National Juvenile Defender Center in
Washington, D.C. on May 15, “Gault at 50 Gala,” that marked the 50th
anniversary of the “In re Gault” case. The event recognized Robert
L. Listenbee, former administrator of the United
States Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency
Prevention; and Patricia
Puritz, founder and former executive director of the National
Juvenile Defender Center.
“The juvenile justice system today is much
different than the one that Gerald Gault experienced in 1967,” Merlo said. “Society
recognizes that children and youth are different from adults and is much more
aware of maltreatment of children and youth and its effects on subsequent
offending. Increasingly, evidence based research and trauma informed care guide
policy. Some of the harsh and punitive sanctions of the 1990s have been
rescinded and replaced by a more balanced approach.”
book discusses how, in the last half century, court decisions, delinquency trends,
adolescent brain research, ideological considerations, politicized policymaking,
and trauma informed care have influenced the direction of juvenile justice in
the United States.
and co-author Peter Benekos suggest that the juvenile justice system has
evolved from one seeking the best interests of wayward youth to one that
punishes youthful offenders to one that employs evidence-based prevention and
book, in its review of 50 years of salient developments, demonstrates a
trajectory that reaffirms juvenile justice as a system concerned with the
well-being of children and youth, and one capable of—but not yet accomplished
in—compassionate and competent care and supervision of delinquents.
Chesney-Lind, professor of women’s studies at the University of Hawaii at
Manoa, offers this comment about the book: ‘”Fifty years after the landmark Gault
decision revolutionized juvenile justice, Merlo and Benekos undertake a
sweeping and comprehensive review of that system. Reaffirming Juvenile Justice
powerfully documents legal decisions and key policy debates in the decades that
followed. A must-read for those concerned about how the United States treats
its most vulnerable youth.”
Benekos is professor emeritus of criminology and
criminal justice at Mercyhurst University, Erie.
The book is published by Taylor & Francis Group.