They finally found an answer to overcrowded prisons. Smaller prisoners.
—American Civil Liberties Union, 1996 1
TV exaggerates juvenile crime, scaring public.
—D. Z. Jackson, 1997 2
In international comparisons, the United States has the highest firearm-related homicide rates with Northern Ireland as the next closest competitor.
—Office of Juvenile Justice and Prevention Program, 1999 3
Fear of our children is a fear well grounded in fact, as juvenile crime, particularly violent crime, has ripped through our cities and suburbs like a new and deadly virus ... children are killing children, violently, inhumanly, forcing one another to duck bullets, spraying whole crowds in order to take out a single intended victim, transforming urban American teenagers into the psychological equivalent of war orphans.
—E. Humes, 1996 4
Americans are misinformed about youth violence, and, as the second quote suggests, the media play a large role in fueling citizens' fears of youth. Perhaps as a result of this fear, more young people convicted of crimes go to jail with adults or serve adult sentences than ever before. 5 Part of the problem is access to firearms, but a larger part is the way our society views its youth and withholds proactive guidance and socialization.
In the late 1980s, policymakers predicted that society should prepare for the onslaught of the teenage "superpredator," who in growing numbers