CREDIT for the creation of the first juvenile court in this country is usually given to the state of Illinois, which established this special procedure in chancery for the consideration of children's behavior in the Circuit Court in June, 1899. On the other hand, according to Judge Benjamin B. Lindsey ( 1925), Colorado had granted the same authority to county judges a few months before. The roots of the legal procedure go back many centuries in English practice to the chancery function of the court over the property and welfare of minors.
The theory of chancery is that a girl or a boy who commits a delinquent act should be considered a child whose social development has been so faulty that the state is warranted to intervene as an authority superior to that of the parent, in order to insure to the child such corrective influences as will compensate for his previous upbringing. There are in the main, therefore, two functions belonging to a juvenile court. One is based on a determination of fact: does this child come under the legal definition of a boy or a girl in need of protection by the state? The other function is to provide such protection. The first is a judicial function; the second is an administrative one. Homer Folks, at the 1906 Conference, made clear the distinction, which Judge Julian W. Mack, of the Cook County Juvenile Court, at the same Conference entirely approved, and which Abraham Flexner in 1910 repeated in his lucid and logical manner.
Homer Folks and Judge Mack, at the Conference of 1906,