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Abstract

The question of how to deal fairly and effectively with the problem of juvenile crime has long perplexed the public and policy makers. The current juvenile justice system in New York State reflects this uncertainty -- as it simultaneously employs two completely different models for the adjudication of juveniles accused of unlawful acts. The first model emphasizes the provision of rehabilitative services for delinquent youth through noncriminal proceedings in the Family Court. The second model stresses the use of punitive sanctions in the adult criminal courts for more serious juvenile offenders. To begin to sort through these models, this Essay first examines the development of the current juvenile justice system in New York State. It then examines the assumptions and values underlying these two models. This Essay then contends that increased prosecution of juveniles would by unlikely to improve the current situation. The Essay then concludes by noting factors that have limited the fairness and effectiveness of the Family Court's rehabilitative model.

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