Juvenile Court Started In 1899 – Here's Where The U.S. Is Now

Boston Juvenile Court circa 1910
Zain Murdock
September 20, 2021

In 1899, Chicago became the first city in the world to have a juvenile detention system. Created by a group of women hoping to keep children out of dangerous prisons with adults, they called it “parental court.” 

A noble effort – but like most “justice” systems in the U.S., it backfired quickly.

Youth incarceration didn’t actually prevent crime. And by the modern era, Black children like Mariah were getting overwhelmingly sucked into it – more than 4x as much as white kids. 

It turns out jailing kids in a different building than adults doesn’t actually address the root causes of crime, like poverty.

The U.S. incarcerates more of its youth than anywhere else in the world. And, as of 2014, the country spends $88,000 per incarcerated child – or $6 billion a year in our tax dollars – on juvenile detention itself.

Imagine if that money went to these childrens’ livelihoods so they wouldn’t have to steal? Or medical care and education, so they could get drug treatments? Or restorative justice programs, so they could learn to resolve conflicts without violence?

This country doesn’t spend it on those things, though, because it isn’t interested in rehabilitating our children. It wants to raise them in a dehumanizing system as kids to prepare them for a life of exploitation as incarcerated adults.

We have a quick favor to ask:

PushBlack is a nonprofit dedicated to raising up Black voices. We are a small team but we have an outsized impact:

  • We reach tens of millions of people with our BLACK NEWS & HISTORY STORIES every year.
  • We fight for CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM to protect our community.
  • We run VOTING CAMPAIGNS that reach over 10 million African-Americans across the country.

And as a nonprofit, we rely on small donations from subscribers like you.

With as little as $5 a month, you can help PushBlack raise up Black voices. It only takes a minute, so will you please ?

Share This Article: