The juvenile justice system navigates a high degree of variation in youthful offenders. While professionals with insights about reform and adolescent development consider the risks, the needs, and the patterns of delinquency of youth, too little attention is paid to the responses and practicalities of a system that is both complex and limited in its resources.
In his essential book, Taking Juvenile Justice Seriously, Christopher Sullivan systematically analyzes key facets of justice-involved youth populations and parses cases to better understand core developmental influences that affect delinquency. He takes a comprehensive look at aspects of the life-course affected by juvenile justice as well as at the juvenile justice system’s operations and its multifaceted mission of delivering both treatment and sanctions to a varied population of youths.
Taking Juvenile Justice Seriously first provides an overview of the youth who encounter the system, then describes its present operations and obstacles, synthesizes relevant developmental insights, and reviews current practices. Drawing on research, theory, and evidence regarding innovative policies, Sullivan offers a series of well-grounded recommendations that suggest how to potentially—and realistically—implement a more effective juvenile justice system that would benefit all.