An Executive Summary: Rethinking Juvenile Justice

Elizabeth S. Scott and Laurence Steinberg, leading figures in juvenile law and adolescentdevelopmental psychology, have brought their disciplines together to define a new approach to juvenile crime. In their book, Rethinking Juvenile Justice (Harvard University Press, 2008), they argue that advances in science, evolving public attitudes, and skyrocketing costs make this a prime moment for reform of the juvenile justice system.They outline a new developmental model that is complex, nuanced, and grounded in scientific evidence. It recognizes adolescents’ immaturity but also holds them accountable for their actions, and it offers solutions that allow them to grow into responsible adults.In the end, the authors contend, this approach would better serve the interests of justice and public safety, and be less wasteful of money and lives, than either the traditional rehabilitation model or the punitive policies of the past generation.