Juvenile Probation: An Analysis of the Case Records of Five Hundred Children Studied at the Judge Baker Guidance Clinic and Placed on Probation in the Juvenile Court of Boston

By Belle Boone Beard | Go to book overview

CHAPTER I
INTRODUCTION

Juvenile probation has been aptly called the "forerunner" of the juvenile court movement. It was practiced in Massachusetts as early as 1830, and was sanctioned by statute in 1878. When the first juvenile court was established in 1899, probation became its recognized handmaiden. Since then its use has grown rapidly. State after state has incorporated it into its machinery for dealing with offenders. The exponents of probation reasoned as follows: apprehend the child when he first shows signs of delinquency; supervise him so that additional offenses will not be committed; prevent the development of criminal habits and attitudes, then there can be no crime.

Throughout the last thirty years a great deal has been written on the subject of probation. Some writers have dealt with the theoretical aspects of probation and others with practical problems, such as legal requirements, the training of probation officers, and methods of treatment. In this literature praises abound, and criticisms and doubts are rare, if not exceptional, and where they do exist they are directed toward technicalities rather than toward fundamental principles. But measurements of the effects of probation are lacking. Healy, Bronner, Baylor and Murphy, in the Introduction to Reconstructing Behavior in Youth,1 have called attention already to this failure to consider results. They say:

"We have consistently stressed the fact that a great deal of work which goes under the name of social service and is initiated by people of humane tendencies is continued mainly because of the

____________________
1
See p. 5. Reprinted from Reconstructing Behavior in Youth, by Healy, Bronner, Baylor and Murphy, by permission of and special arrangement with Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., authorized publishers.

-1-

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