Emily Bazelon


What role, if any, does the public have to play in the delinquency and dependency proceedings that compose the dockets of juvenile and family courts? Since the establishment of the first juvenile court in Chicago in 1899, most jurisdictions have allowed only a small group of judges, lawyers, probation officers, and social workers access to court proceedings and records when children are either victims of abuse or accused of crimes. Policies of non-disclosure for minors originated because the founders of the juvenile court at the turn of the century believed confidentiality was critical to rehabilitation and treatment. Only if children escaped the stigma of public knowledge, the juvenile court founders reasoned, could they leave behind their troubled pasts.

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