Criminal Justice 202:322

Juvenile Justice


Fall 2003 - M W F 11:15 - 12:10

Instructor: Jane Siegel, Ph.D.
Office: 363 Armitage 
Phone: (856) 225-6143 
Home page:
Office hours: Monday and Wednesday, 1:30 - 2:30, and by appointment


Juvenile Delinquency: The Core, by Larry Siegel

The Sociology of Juvenile Delinquency, Second Edition, edited by Ronald J. Berger

The texts can be purchased at the bookstore. The publisher of the text maintains a website that includes quizzes for each chapter that students can administer themselves. These quizzes are recommended as useful study aids. To utilize this feature, click here to get to the section of the publisher's web site for the text. Click on the button labeled "...for students," which will take you to another screen. From the drop-down menu, choose the chapter for which you would like to utilize the quiz; after the page for the chapter comes up, click on the link for "tutorial quiz."


The goals of this course are for students to:

1) learn about the nature and extent of juvenile delinquency in the United States;

2) become familiar with and critically evaluate the major theories that have been developed as explanations for the onset of, continuation in and desistance from delinquency;

3) understand the role of external factors such as family, friends and schools in child development and delinquency;

4) learn about society's response to delinquency through informal and formal mechanisms of control; and

5) apply knowledge about the causes and correlates of delinquency to a critical assessment of juvenile justice policy

The above objectives are to be achieved through a process involving readings, lectures, class discussions and independent research.


Juveniles are accorded special status under the American legal system. Children and adolescents also account for a disproportionate amount of crime committed. Preventing such behavior and responding to its occurrence are matters of concern to society at large and to the criminal justice system in particular. This course will examine the historical precedents and philosophical reasons for treating juveniles differently from adults and review empirical evidence about child development that can illuminate the reasons for their special status within the system. Students will learn about the distribution of juvenile delinquency according to both official statistics and self-report data and learn about the impact of significant social and institutional influences on delinquency: family, school, peers and drugs. The major theories that have been proposed as explanations of delinquent behavior will be reviewed and evaluated based on the research conducted to test each theory.

The course will also provide a detailed overview of the juvenile justice system, from its beginnings to the current state of the institution, which will include a review of police work with juveniles, pretrial procedures, the juvenile court system and the juvenile correctional system. Major court rulings that have shaped contemporary juvenile justice will be presented as well. Students will also have the opportunity to observe parts of the juvenile justice system first-hand by attending a juvenile court session and visiting a correctional facility for adjudicated delinquents.


Students' mastery of the readings and lecture materials presented in class will be evaluated on the basis of their performance on two tests and a final exam, a research paper, an essay and class participation.

Make-up exams will be given only if you have obtained my permission to be excused from the actual exam prior to the time of that exam. Students with disabilities requesting accommodations in the class are encouraged to contact the Office of Services for Students with Disabilities at the Student Life Office (Armitage 2nd Floor, 225-6043 ) as soon as possible to better ensure that such accommodations are implemented in a timely fashion. Special accommodations will be made upon notification by that office that such arrangements are needed.


Students are expected to attend class regularly and to have completed all assigned readings prior to the date for which they are assigned (see below). Points in this category will be earned through class attendance, participation in class discussions, attendance at field trips, participation in on-line discussions via the class electronic mailing list and oral responses to questions posed on periodic assignments that will require research on the Internet and that will be distributed through the class mailing list. Students who miss a class are responsible for getting notes from someone else in the class and for finding out about any assignments that were given out that day.


Students will complete a term paper for this course, which is described in a separate document. Papers will be judged on the basis of both content and the quality of the writing. If you need assistance with writing skills, I urge you to contact the Learning Resource Center in Armitage Hall (room 231) for help. Grammatical errors, including incorrect spelling, will reduce the grade on a paper.


Students will be evaluated on the basis of test scores, a term paper, participation in four in-class discussion groups and participation in class discussions. Final grades will be computed on the following basis:
Tests 30% (15% each)
Final exam 25%
Term paper 25% 
Discussion groups 10% (2.5% each)
Class participation 10%


The college's academic integrity policy, which can be found in the college catalogue, will be enforced in this class. Plagiarism is considered an extremely serious offense that can result in a tarnished official record or even expulsion from the university. Students are encouraged to read our department's plagiarism policy, which includes some useful links to other sites that may help you avoid plagiarizing inadvertently. If you are in doubt about what might constitute plagiarism in an assignment, please check with me.


An electronic mailing list, also known as a listserv, has been established for this class. I will use it when needed to communicate messages to the entire class, which each student will receive as an e-mail message. Students can also utilize the list to pose questions or comments to the entire class. Being part of the list is extremely important, so read the instructions about how to get your name on the list.


Assigned readings should be done prior to the date where they appear. The schedule outlined below represents my intended timetable, but adjustments may be made during the semester. The word "Text" refers to the juvenile delinquency textbook by Siegel and the word "Berger" refers to the delinquency anthology.

Students are responsible for knowing the material in the readings, regardless of whether it is discussed in class or not. In other words, your tests will include materials from class lectures and your readings, unless otherwise noted.

9/3 Introduction and course overview. 

The historical concept of children in society. The legal status of children and the concept of parens patriae.

Status offending.

Text Ch. 1

Berger Ch. 14

9/8 Measuring juvenile crime. Juvenile crime rates and trends. Correlates of delinquency. Understanding the age-crime controversy. Development of delinquent careers. Juvenile victimization. Text Ch. 2

Berger Ch. 3 and 4

Delinquency Theories
9/15 Classical theory: choosing crime. Deterrence.

Trait theory: biological and psychological factors

Text Ch. 3

Berger Ch. 8

9/22 Sociological views.

Social structure theories. Social learning theories. Control theories. Labeling.Social conflict.

Text Ch. 4

Berger, Ch. 15

Paper topic due 9/22 by 5:00 (submit via e-mail)

9/29 Sociological theories (cont'd.) Berger, Ch. 6, 7 and 10
10/6 Developmental views of delinquency. Text, Ch. 5

Reference list for paper due 10/10


Social and Institutional Influences on Delinquency
10/13 Explaining the differences in male and female delinquency. Text Ch. 6

Berger, Ch. 5, 13

Exam 1 - 10/15 - Ch. 1-5 in text plus associated readings and lecture materials

10/20 The influence of the family on delinquency. The nature and extent of child abuse and neglect and its relationship to delinquent behavior. Text Ch. 7

Berger, Ch. 9

10/27 Peer influences on delinquent behavior. Juvenile gangs in the past and present. Theoretical explanations of gang membership. 

Communities and gangs.

Text Ch. 8

Berger, Ch. 17, 19

11/3 Relationship between school and delinquency. 

Educational achievement and delinquency. Schools and delinquency prevention.

Text Ch. 9

Berger, Ch. 11


11/10 From alcohol to heroin: drugs and delinquency. 

Extent of drug use by juveniles. Delinquent behavior and drugs. Approaches to drug control.

Text Ch. 10

Berger, Ch. 16

Detailed outline of paper due 11/10

Juvenile Justice System
11/17 History of the juvenile justice system.

Overview of the contemporary juvenile justice system.

NOTE: There will be no class on Friday 11/21. Instead of today's class, a field visit to a juvenile correctional institution will be held on another day.

Text Ch. 11

Berger, Ch. 1 and 2

Exam 2 - 11/17

Ch. 6-10 in text plus associated readings and lecture materials

11/24 Police work with juveniles. 

Discretionary decisionmaking by police and the role of bias. Legal constraints on police behavior.

NO CLASS 11/28 - Thanksgiving

Text Ch. 12

Berger, Ch. 21 and 22


12/1 Juvenile court: heart of the juvenile justice system.

Juvenile court processes: pre-trial procedures, detention, diversion, plea bargaining, trial, sentencing. Transfers to adult court. Legal protections for juveniles in court. Death penalty for juveniles.

Text Ch. 13

Berger, Ch. 23 and 24

12/8 Juvenile corrections in the community and institutions.

Probation. Juvenile institutions.Treatment for juveniles.

Classes end 12/10

Text Ch. 14

Berger, Ch. 25 and 26

Term paper due 12/8


12/18   FINAL EXAM

9:00 - 12:00