Bianca Premo is associate professor of history at Florida International University.
The juvenile court lies at the intersection of youth policy and crime policy. Its institutional practices reflect our changing ideas about children and crime control. The Evolution of the Juvenile Court provides a sweeping overview of the American juvenile justice system’s development and change over the past century. Noted law professor and criminologist Barry C. Feld places special emphasis on changes over the last 25 years—the ascendance of get tough crime policies and the more recent Supreme Court recognition that “children are different.”
Feld’s comprehensive historical analyses trace juvenile courts’ evolution though four periods—the original Progressive Era, the Due Process Revolution in the 1960s, the Get Tough Era of the 1980s and 1990s, and today’s Kids Are Different era. In each period, changes in the economy, cities, families, race and ethnicity, and politics have shaped juvenile courts’ policies and practices. Changes in juvenile courts’ ends and means—substance and procedure—reflect shifting notions of children’s culpability and competence.
The Evolution of the Juvenile Court examines how conservative politicians used coded racial appeals to advocate get tough policies that equated children with adults and more recent Supreme Court decisions that draw on developmental psychology and neuroscience research to bolster its conclusions about youths’ reduced criminal responsibility and diminished competence. Feld draws on lessons from the past to envision a new, developmentally appropriate justice system for children. Ultimately, providing justice for children requires structural changes to reduce social and economic inequality—concentrated poverty in segregated urban areas—that disproportionately expose children of color to juvenile courts’ punitive policies.
Historical, prescriptive, and analytical, The Evolution of the Juvenile Court evaluates the author’s past recommendations to abolish juvenile courts in light of this new evidence, and concludes that separate, but reformed, juvenile courts are necessary to protect children who commit crimes and facilitate their successful transition to adulthood.
These essays trace the development of the gangs, from Mara Salvatrucha to the 18th Street Gang, in Los Angeles and their spread to El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, and Nicaragua as the result of members' deportation to Central America; there, they account for high homicide rates and threaten the democratic stability of the region. With expertise in areas ranging from political science to law enforcement and human rights, the contributors also explore the spread of mara violence in the United States. Their findings comprise a complete documentation that spans sexualized violence, case studies of individual gangs, economic factors, varied responses to gang violence, the use of intelligence gathering, the limits of state power, and the role of policy makers.
Raising crucial questions for a wide readership, these essays are sure to spark productive international dialogues.
Milanich pays particular attention to family law, arguing that liberal legal reforms wrought in the 1850s, which left the paternity of illegitimate children purposely unrecorded, reinforced not only patriarchal power but also hierarchies of class. Through vivid stories culled from judicial and notarial sources and from a cache of documents found in the closet of a Santiago orphanage, she reveals how law and bureaucracy helped create an anonymous underclass bereft of kin entitlements, dependent on the charity of others, and marginalized from public bureaucracies. Milanich also challenges the recent scholarly emphasis on state formation by highlighting the enduring importance of private, informal, and extralegal relations of power within and across households. Children of Fate demonstrates how the study of children can illuminate the social organization of gender and class, liberalism, law, and state power in modern Latin America.
Kathryn Burns argues that the archive itself must be historicized. Using the case of colonial Cuzco, she examines the practices that shaped document-making. Notaries were businessmen, selling clients a product that conformed to local “custom” as well as Spanish templates. Clients, for their part, were knowledgeable consumers, with strategies of their own for getting what they wanted. In this inside story of the early modern archive, Burns offers a wealth of possibilities for seeing sources in fresh perspective.
This book offers the first comprehensive introduction in either English or Spanish to private law in Spanish Latin America from the colonial period to the present. M. C. Mirow organizes the book into three substantial sections that describe private law and legal institutions in the colonial period, the independence era and nineteenth century, and the twentieth century. Each section begins with an introduction to the nature and function of private law during the period and discusses such topics as legal education and lawyers, legal sources, courts, land, inheritance, commercial law, family law, and personal status. Each section also presents themes of special interest during its respective time period, including slavery, Indian status, codification, land reform, and development and globalization.