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IUP professor co-authors book

by IUP News Service on May 19, 2017 10:48 AM

Dr. Alida Merlo, a professor in Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, is co-author of a recently released book about the juvenile justice system.

The book, “Reaffirming Juvenile Justice: From Gault to Montgomery,” coincides with the 50th anniversary of the landmark case “In re Gault,” which mandated specific due process protections for youths alleged to be delinquent. The book considers the evolving U.S. juvenile justice system while anticipating future challenges and trends.

Merlo attended a “Gault at 50 Gala” Monday sponsored by the National Juvenile Defender Center in Washington, D.C., that marked the 50th anniversary of the “In re Gault” case. The event recognized Robert L. Listenbee, former administrator of the United States Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention; and Patricia Puritz, founder and former executive director of the National Juvenile Defender Center.

“The juvenile justice system today is much different than the one that Gerald Gault experienced in 1967,” Merlo said. “Society recognizes that children and youth are different from adults and is much more aware of maltreatment of children and youth and its effects on subsequent offending. Increasingly, evidence-based research and trauma-informed care guide policy. Some of the harsh and punitive sanctions of the 1990s have been rescinded and replaced by a more balanced approach.”

The book discusses how, in the last half century, court decisions, delinquency trends, adolescent brain research, ideological considerations, politicized policymaking and trauma-informed care have influenced the direction of juvenile justice in the United States.

Merlo and co-author Peter Benekos suggest that the juvenile justice system has evolved from one seeking the best interests of wayward youths to one that punishes youthful offenders to one that employs evidence-based prevention and intervention strategies.

The book, in its review of 50 years of salient developments, demonstrates a trajectory that reaffirms juvenile justice as a system concerned with the well-being of children and youth, and one capable of — but not yet accomplished in — compassionate and competent care and supervision of delinquents.

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