To read the full version of this content please select one of the options below:

Setting a minimum age for juvenile justice jurisdiction in California

Elizabeth S. Barnert (Juvenile Justice Working Group, University of California Criminal Justice and Health Consortium, California, USA) (Department of Pediatrics, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, California, USA)
Laura S. Abrams (Juvenile Justice Working Group, University of California Criminal Justice and Health Consortium, California, USA) (Department of Social Welfare, Luskin School of Public Affairs, University of California, Los Angeles, California, USA)
Cheryl Maxson (Juvenile Justice Working Group, University of California Criminal Justice and Health Consortium, California, USA) (Department of Criminology, Law and Society, Irvine School of Social Ecology, University of California, Irvine, California, USA)
Lauren Gase (Juvenile Justice Working Group, University of California Criminal Justice and Health Consortium, California, USA) (Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, Division of Chronic Disease and Injury Prevention, Los Angeles, California, USA)
Patricia Soung (Children’s Defense Fund-California, California, USA)
Paul Carroll (Juvenile Justice Working Group, University of California Criminal Justice and Health Consortium, California, USA) (Department of Psychology, University of California, Merced, California, USA)
Eraka Bath (Juvenile Justice Working Group, University of California Criminal Justice and Health Consortium, California, USA) (Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, California, USA)

International Journal of Prisoner Health

ISSN: 1744-9200

Article publication date: 13 March 2017

278

Abstract

Purpose

Despite the existence of minimum age laws for juvenile justice jurisdiction in 18 US states, California has no explicit law that protects children (i.e. youth less than 12 years old) from being processed in the juvenile justice system. In the absence of a minimum age law, California lags behind other states and international practice and standards. The paper aims to discuss these issues.

Design/methodology/approach

In this policy brief, academics across the University of California campuses examine current evidence, theory, and policy related to the minimum age of juvenile justice jurisdiction.

Findings

Existing evidence suggests that children lack the cognitive maturity to comprehend or benefit from formal juvenile justice processing, and diverting children from the system altogether is likely to be more beneficial for the child and for public safety.

Research limitations/implications

Based on current evidence and theory, the authors argue that minimum age legislation that protects children from contact with the juvenile justice system and treats them as children in need of services and support, rather than as delinquents or criminals, is an important policy goal for California and for other national and international jurisdictions lacking a minimum age law.

Originality/value

California has no law specifying a minimum age for juvenile justice jurisdiction, meaning that young children of any age can be processed in the juvenile justice system. This policy brief provides a rationale for a minimum age law in California and other states and jurisdictions without one.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This work was funded by a seed grant from the UC Criminal Justice & Health Consortium and by a UCLA Transdisciplinary Seed Grant to the first and second author. Dr Barnert was supported by a grant from the NIH National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (UL1TR000124) and the UCLA Children’s Discovery and Innovation Institute. The findings and conclusions in this paper are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views or the official position of the affiliated institutions.

Citation

S. Barnert, E., S. Abrams, L., Maxson, C., Gase, L., Soung, P., Carroll, P. and Bath, E. (2017), "Setting a minimum age for juvenile justice jurisdiction in California", International Journal of Prisoner Health, Vol. 13 No. 1, pp. 49-56. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJPH-07-2016-0030

Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

Related articles