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Juvenile Delinquency in Late 19th Century England

Two acts passed at the timeùthe Reformatory School Acts of 1854 and 1857ùhelped to enshrine a new way of treating juvenile delinquency and crime. Under these laws, a judge had the discretionary power of sending a young offender to what was being called a 'reform school' for a period of years (up to five), provided he had already served a prison sentence of some kind. But this option seemed to take some time to catch onùmostly because it involved further expense. In a study of the criminal court system in Kent, the author found that between 1859-1880 where the judge had the option only 26 percent of those eligible under the age of 13 and 30 percent of those between 13-15 were sent to reform school (Conley 34).

In the late 19th century, a series of so-called new sciencesùpsychology, sociology, anthropologyùcame up with their own spin on the notion of adolescence, defining it as an age where many physical and psychological changes take place and where confusion often reigned. The new sciences claimed that 'many adolescents failed during this period to make a proper adjustment to their surroundings as defined by home, school and work. The outcome could be the first steps in a criminal calling' (Bailey 8).

As mentioned previously, it was at about this time that concerns were starting to be raised as to what was the correct way to treat juvenile crimeùand those committing such crimes. Numerous commissions were struck at about this time and into the early 20th century, including the House of Lords Committee on Juvenile Delinquency and Transportation (1847), the Select Committee on Prison Discipline (1850), the Select Committee on Criminal and Destitute Juveniles (1852-53), the Committee on Reformatories and Industrial Schools (1894), and the Departmental Committee on Probation of Offenders (1907). Despite the various commissions, a little after the middle of the 19th century, there were still a variety of punishments meted out t...

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Juvenile Delinquency in Late 19th Century England. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 18:33, July 20, 2017, from
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