Degrees of Discretion

David S. Tanenhaus

in Our Children, Their Children

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print December 2005 | ISBN: 9780226319889
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226319919 | DOI:
Degrees of Discretion

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This chapter analyzes the foundational principles of the American juvenile justice system. It examines how the court was created by child savers primarily to divert all juvenile offenders from the criminal justice system and to speed up the Americanization process for the “foreign” children, who were the vast majority of the court's early clientele. Concerns about Americanization, however, gradually diminished after Congress's passage of the Johnson–Reed Immigration Act of 1924, which limited immigration to 150,000 annually, established quotas for the number of “new immigrants” from southern and eastern Europe, and banned entirely the entrance into the country of persons who were ineligible for citizenship. This provision, in effect, banned Asians—half the world's population—from coming to America.

Keywords: American juvenile justice; Americanization; Johnson–Reed Immigration Act; Congress

Chapter.  7359 words. 

Subjects: Family Law

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