A New Juvenile Justice System

Total Reform for a Broken System

400 pages

5 figures

May, 2015

ISBN: 9781479898800



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Nancy Dowd is Professor and David Levin Chair in Family Law at the University of Florida Levin College of Law.  She is the editor of the Families, Law and Society series at NYU Press, and author or editor of numerous books, including A New Juvenile Justice System (NYU 2015).

All books by Nancy E. Dowd

Charles J. Ogletree, Jr. is the Jesse Climenko Professor of Law and Executive Director of the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice at Harvard Law School. He is the author of All Deliberate Speed: Reflections on the First Half-Century of Brown v. Board of Education (WW Norton and Company, 2004) and Co-Author of From Lynch Mobs to the Killing State: Race and the Death Penalty in America.

All books by Charles J. Ogletree, Jr.

A New Juvenile Justice System aims at nothing less than a complete reform of the existing system: not minor change or even significant overhaul, but the replacement of the existing system with a different vision. The authors in this volume—academics, activists, researchers, and those who serve in the existing system—all respond in this collection to the question of what the system should be. Uniformly, they agree that an ideal system should be centered around the principle of child well-being and the goal of helping kids to achieve productive lives as citizens and members of their communities. 
Rather than the existing system, with its punitive, destructive, undermining effect and uneven application by race and gender, these authors envision a system responsive to the needs of youth as well as to the community’s legitimate need for public safety. How, they ask, can the ideals of equality, freedom, liberty, and self-determination transform the system? How can we improve the odds that children who have been labeled as “delinquent” can make successful transitions to adulthood? And how can we create a system that relies on proven, family-focused interventions and creates opportunities for positive youth development? Drawing upon interdisciplinary work as well as on-the-ground programs and experience, the authors sketch out the broad parameters of such a system.  
Providing the principles, goals, and concrete means to achieve them, this volume imagines using our resources wisely and well to invest in all children and their potential to contribute and thrive in our society.


  • “The juvenile justice system and discussions of reform remain pressing contemporary issues; Dowd has edited a thought-provoking book on how to change, modify, or even overhaul the juvenile justice system in the US.”  


  • "[T]his new volume lays out a thorough and well thought out blueprint for a complete reform of the existing juvenile justice system...A thought-provoking work aimed at policy makers, this volume is the source for some appalling statistics and sad stories, but optimistically imagines a system that invests in the potential rather than the incarceration of the next generation."


  • “This book should appeal to a number of different types of readers.  It is a timely and important contribution in shedding light on the various prevention, intervention, and rehabilitative mechanisms surrounding the juvenile justice system.”

    Criminal Law and Criminal Justice Books

  • "[A] blueprint for addressing the mounting failures of our juvenile justice system."

    Journal of Youth and Adolescence

  • "We know that the juvenile justice system is destructive, that it damages the children it is meant to help without making our communities safer. This compelling and innovative collection offers us a powerful new vision of a system that is focused on child well being, that serves both youth and community needs for safety and helps our youths develop into productive adults."

    —Nell Bernstein, author of All Alone in the World

  • "The anthology that Nancy Dowd has created speaks to the hard truths and reality of the Juvenile Justice System as we know it and what we would like it to bea system that truly embraces individualized justice, fairness, equity, and the developmental needs of our system-involved youth. Dowd has done a masterful job of weaving together articles from key leaders in the juvenile justice and related fields in a way that creates a level of clarity and understanding that both challenges and inspires those who work in the field to do better for all of our youth and their families, regardless of race, ethnicity, and gender."

    —Shay Bilchik, Georgetown University

  • "It is beyond debate that our juvenile justice system is badly broken. The U.S. incarcerates more children than any other nation in the world. In this volume Nancy Dowd brings together the best minds in the study of juvenile justice reform to collaborate in exploring solutions. A New Juvenile Justice System is both sobering and inspiring. It takes us beyond the problems of today and gives us reason to hope for a better tomorrow for all of our children."

    —Barbara Bennett Woodhouse, L. Q. C. Lamar Professor of Law, Emory University

  • "The juvenile justice system is too punitive, too focused on detention, and too wedded to old folk wisdom that ignores recent scientific advances in understanding and treating antisocial behavior. This book is chockfull of innovative ideas, presented by a highly interdisciplinary and highly expert group of authors, for reforming the juvenile justice system, both substantively and procedurally. It makes a strong case for the proposition that juvenile justice should be aimed at treating all children the way we would want our children to be treated."

    —Christopher Slobogin, Milton Underwood Professor of Law, Vanderbilt University Law School