We now know, as the founders of the juvenile court system intuited at the dawn of the twentieth century, that children are not little adults. Youth are accountable, but in a constitutional sense they are different than adults. Practitioners across the country are considering the implications of the message of proportional sanctioning and sentencing in a variety of contexts, including zero tolerance in schools, capacity to form mens rea, mandatory transfer, and collateral consequences. However, this landscape has been complicated by a disturbing and counterintuitive narrative: the recriminalization of status offense conduct (e.g., not attending school, running away from home, violating curfew) that was decriminalized in the aftermath of In re Gault, 387 U.S. 1 (1967), and the enactment of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) in 1974.
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