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Abstract

The first juvenile courts in this country were created to keep children from being tried and sentenced as adults in adult criminal courts and from being subjected to the rigors of formal, public adversarial proceedings.' The reformers who created juvenile courts hoped to handle all delinquents within the community itself on an informal basis and without the trappings of due process.2 Using the concept of parens patriae3 and developing it into the idea that the state had the power to act in place of parents of deviant or dependent children,4 the juvenile courts used informal, discretionary procedures to diagnose the causes of, and prescribe cures for, juvenile delinquency on a personalized basis.' The juvenile court, by separating children from adults and by providing a rehabilitative alternative to punishment, acted as a diversionary program.6 In effect, the creation of the juvenile court was a strategy to divert children to the more humanitarian and protective environment of the juvenile court, which would be more concerned with the individual minor than with the particular offense."

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