The Front End of the Juvenile Court

Daniel P. Mears

in The Oxford Handbook of Juvenile Crime and Juvenile Justice

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780195385106
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 The Front End of the Juvenile Court

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  • Criminology and Criminal Justice
  • Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice
  • Courts and Procedure


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This article is focused on front-end processing in the juvenile court. The front end of juvenile justice refers to initial court decisions about how to process cases. The article discusses how the traditional mission of the juvenile court, which emphasizes punishment, treatment and services, and individualized attention, contributes to the goals and structure of front-end decision-making. Following this, it reveals two critical front-end activities: screening and assessment and informal and formal processing encompassing the roles of intake officers and prosecutors in these activities and how they comport with the juvenile court's traditional mission. Furthermore, it explores the stakes involved in front-end decision-making, including the potential impacts on how cases are processed and describes the implications of front-end processing for policy and practice. It concludes with a call for better monitoring of and research on front-end juvenile court processing and its impacts on recidivism, juvenile crime rates, and other outcomes.

Keywords: front-end processing; justice; court; juvenile court; policy; practice; juvenile crime

Article.  15456 words. 

Subjects: Criminology and Criminal Justice ; Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice ; Courts and Procedure

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