As New York State begins to implement raise the age, I have compiled a reading list for advocates and others who are beginning to implement this important policy.

Reading List: New York and National Resources on Juvenile Justice

Compiled by Dr. Alexandra Cox, University of Essex, UK


This reading list is by no means exhaustive.  It is an attempt to bring together critical evidence and resources that can help to inform conversations about the implementation of raise the age.  The list focuses in particular on historical perspectives about New York’s system, which was the first juvenile custodial system in the United States.  There are a rich set of resources about this history which can hopefully inform present debates.  Building on this history, some of the work on brain development and risk takes two very central topics in juvenile justice debates and critically interrogates them in order to help inform our thinking about implementing policies that seek to recognize youth risk.  Finally, I have shared some resources that draw on important research that has been done in New York State and elsewhere on the conditions of confinement for young people.  This list grows out of the work that I did in preparation for my own book on New York’s system, Trapped in a Vice: The Consequences of Confinement for Young People (Rutgers University Press).



Recent and Notable General Resources on Juvenile Justice


Abrams, Laura. "Juvenile Justice at a Crossroads: Science, Evidence, and Twenty-First Century Reform." Social Service Review 87, no. 4 (2013): 725-52.


Feld, B. (1999) Bad Kids: Race and the Transformation of the Juvenile Court, New York, Oxford University Press.

Feld examines some of the social and legal changes that have played a role in changing the juvenile court in America.  He proposes the decoupling of the welfare and social control purposes of the juvenile courts. 

Gatti., U., Tremblay and Vitaro (2009) ‘Iatrogenic effect of juvenile justice,’ The Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 50, 991-998.

These researchers found that a juvenile justice intervention greatly increases the likelihood of involvement with the penal system in adulthood.

Kristin Henning, Jenadee Nanini & Geoff Ward, (2018) Toward Equal Recognition, Authority, and Protection: Legal and Extra-legal Advocacy for Black Youth in the Juvenile Justice System, in Rights, Race, and Reform: 50 Years of Child Advocacy in the Juvenile Justice System 30-50 (Kristin Henning, Laura Cohen & Ellen Marrus eds., New York: Routledge 2018) 

Slobogin and Fondacaro. (2010) ‘Juvenile Justice: The Fourth Option,’ Iowa Law Review, 95.

These authors argue for a juvenile justice system focused on the prevention of criminal behavior rather than retribution, taking into account recent research on adolescent development.

Tyler, T. & Trinkner, R. (2018) Why Children Follow Rules, New York: Oxford University Press.

An important new book on the legal socialization of children. 

Zane, S. N., Welsh, B. C. and Mears, D. P. (2016), ‘Juvenile Transfer and the Specific Deterrence Hypothesis.’ Criminology & Public Policy, 15: 901-925.

Critical Perspectives on Brain Development


Cox, Alexandra. (2014) ‘Brain Science and Juvenile Justice: Questions for Policy and Practice.’ In Juvenile Justice Sourcebook: Past Present and Future, edited by Wesley Church, David Springer and Albert Roberts. New York: Oxford University Press.

 Maroney, T. (2010) ‘The False Promise of Adolescent Brain Science in Juvenile Justice,’ Notre Dame Law Review, Vol. 85.

This is an important critique – and warning – about the uses of adolescent brain science in the context of the criminal defense of children.

 Maroney, T. (2011) ‘Adolescent Brain Science after Graham V. Florida.’ Notre Dame Law Review 86, no. 2 (2011): 765-94.

A good update on the previous article.

 Walsh, C. (2011) ‘Youth Justice and Neuroscience: A Dual-Use Dilemma.’ British Journal of Criminology 51: 21-39.


New York’s Politics of Punishment

 Barker, V. (2009) The Politics of Imprisonment: How the Democratic Process Shapes the Way America Punishes Offenders, New York, Oxford University Press.

Barker conducted an analysis of three states, California, New York and Oregon, and considered the ways in which political frameworks and the structure of democratic deliberation and decision-making shape the forms of punitiveness in each state.  Her analysis of New York is helpful in understanding some of the ways that New York’s sentencing and penal systems have come to be shaped and may be instructive for contemporary analyses of change in the juvenile justice system.

 Historical Accounts

 Bernard T and Kurlychek M (2010) The Cycle of Juvenile Justice. New York: Oxford Universty Press.

 Bernstein, N. (2014) Burning Down the House: The End of Juvenile Prison, New York: New Press.

Bernstein interviewed young people in Office of Children and Family Services custody for this book.

 Bernstein, N. (2001) The Lost Children of Wilder: The Epic Struggle to Change Foster Care, New York, Vintage Books.

Bernstein studied the seminal child welfare case of Wilder, which was an effort to desegregate New York’s child welfare system.  Her book provides an important lens into the history and relationship between the State’s child welfare and juvenile justice systems.

 Butterfield, F. (1996) All God’s Children: The Bosket Family and the American Tradition of Violence, New York: Harper Perennial.

Butterfield studied the family history of Willie Bosket, the young man whose case led to the enactment of the Juvenile Offender law, and in tracing the family back to the American South, discovers the unique role that the culture of violence in the American South which existed amongst the English may have contributed to the role that this violence played in the lives of the slaves and their ancestors.

 Cox, A. (2015) Fresh Air Funds and Functional Families: the enduring politics of race, family, and place in juvenile justice reform. Theoretical Criminology, vol, no 1-17.

 McGarrell, E.F. (1988) Juvenile Correctional Reform: Two Decades of Policy and Procedural Change, Albany, State University of New York.

McGarrell conducted an analysis of New York’s juvenile justice system between the years of 1966 and 1984, examining the role of politics, internal bureaucracy, on the ground practices, and the media in shaping the system.  His book provides an important historical context as well as a helpful political analysis.

 Pickett, R. S. (1969) House of Refuge: Origins of Juvenile Reform in New York State, 1815-1857.

 Platt, A. (1969/1977) The Child Savers: The Invention of Delinquency, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

 Schlossman S (1977) Love and the American Delinquent: The Theory and Practice of “Progressive” Juvenile Justice, 1825–1920. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

 Ward G (2012) The Black Child-Savers: Racial Democracy and Juvenile Justice. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.  


The Juvenile Offender Law

 Charles and Zuccarelli (1997) ‘Serving No "Purpose": The Double-Edged Sword of New York's Juvenile Offender Law.’ Saint John's Journal of Legal Commentary.

 Kupchik, A. (2006) Judging Juveniles: Prosecuting Adolescents in Adult and Juvenile Courts, New York, New York University Press.

Kupchik conducted a comparative analysis of the juvenile offender law in New York and a comparative sample of young people charged as juveniles in New Jersey.  He explored the unique dynamics of the juvenile offender courtrooms in New York, and his analysis provides some important insights into the ways that the juvenile offender law works in practice in New York.

 Barrett, Carla. Courting Kids:  Inside an Experimental Youth Court. New York: NYU Press, 2012.

Barrett did research inside of a juvenile offender court in New York City.

 Singer, S. and McDowell. (1988) Criminalizing Delinquency: The Deterrent Effects of the New York Juvenile Offender Law. Law & Society Review, 22, 521-535.

 Singer, S.L. (1996) Recriminalizing Delinquency: Violent Crime and Juvenile Justice, New York, Cambridge University Press.

Singer studied the events leading up to and the politics surrounding the enactment of the juvenile offender law in New York State.

 New York’s Juvenile Justice Laws: General

 Colman, R., Kim, D. H., Mitchell-Herzfeld, S. & Shady, T. A. (2009). Long-Term

Consequences of Delinquency: Child Maltreatment and Crime in Early Adulthood. Rensselear, NY: New York State Office of Children and Family Services

Internal OCFS study which revealed high rates of return for young people who spent time in OCFS facilities, especially for boys.

 Corriero, M. (2006) Judging Children as Children: A Proposal for a Juvenile Justice System, Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

Judge Michael Corriero’s reflections in part on serving as a judge in Manhattan’s Juvenile Offender courtroom.

 Fagan, J. (1996) ‘The Comparative Advantage of Juvenile Versus Criminal Court Sanctions on Recidivism among Adolescent Felony Offenders’. Law and Policy.

Fagan studied a sample of 15 and 16 year olds in New York and New Jersey charged with robbery and burglary and found that incarceration rates were higher for young people charged in adult criminal court in New York and recidivism rates were lower for those young people charged in New Jersey’s juvenile court.

 Megan Kurlychek at the University of Albany has published a series of articles about the impacts of the YO statute, raising the age, and charging teenagers as adults.

 Fowler, E. & Kurlychek, M. C. (2017) Drawing the Line: Empirical Recidivism Results From a Natural Experiment Raising the Age of Criminal Responsibility. Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice, vol 16, no 3, pp 263-278.

 Kurlychek, M. C. (2017) Mitigation for minors: Exploring the nuances of social constructs and legal status in structuring sentences for youthful offenders. Punishment & Society, vol, no 1462474517708559.

 Kurlychek, M. C. (2016), Effectiveness of Juvenile Transfer to Adult Court. Criminology & Public Policy, 15: 897-900.

 Peterson, R. (1988) ‘Youthful Offender Designations and Sentencing in the New York Criminal Courts,’ Social Problems, 35(2): 111-130.

An analysis of Youthful Offender status in New York and the role that race, ethnicity and gender play in sentencing decisions.

 Conditions of Confinement in New York

 Citizen’s Committee for Children (2009) Inside Out: Youth Experiences Inside New York's Juvenile Placement System. New York, Citizen's Committee for Children.

The CCC conducted research with a group of young people who were placed in institutions run by the Office of Children and Family Services. 

 Jeffrey Fagan & Aaron Kupchik (2011) Juvenile Incarceration and the Pains Of Imprisonment, 3 Duke Forum for Law & Social Change 29-6.1

 Lewis, M. (2006) Custody and Control: Conditions of Confinement in New York's Juvenile Prisons for Girls. New York, Human Rights Watch American Civil Liberties Union.


 Abrams, Laura, and Ben Anderson-Nathe. (2013) Compassionate Confinement: A Year in the Life of Unit C. New Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press.

 Chung, H. L., Little, M. & Steinberg, L. (2005). The Transition to Adulthood for

Adolescents in the Juvenile Justice System: A Developmental Perspective, in Osgood, D. W., Foster, E. M., Flanagan, C. & Ruth, G. R. (eds.) On Your Own Without a Net: The Transition to Adulthood for Vulnerable Populations. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

 Fader, J. (2013) Falling Back: Incarceration and Transitions to Adulthood Among Urban Youth, New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press.

 Flores, J. (2016) Caught Up: Girls, Surveillance and Wraparound Incarceration, Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

 Gray, P. (2011) ‘Youth Custody, Resettlement and the Right to Social Justice', Youth Justice: An International Journal, Vol. 11(3): 235-249.

 Inderbitzen, M. (2006a) Guardians of the State's Problem Children. The Prison Journal, vol 86, no 4, pp 431-451.

 Inderbitzen, M. (2006b) Lessons from a Juvenile Training School: Survival and Growth. Journal of Adolescent Research, vol 21, no 1, pp 7-26.

 Inderbitzen, M. (2007) Inside a maximum security training school. Punishment and Society, vol 9, no 3, pp 235-251.

 Nurse, A. (2010) Locked Up, Locked Out:  Young Men in the Juvenile Justice System, Nashville, Tennessee: Vanderbilt University Press.

 Sankofa, j., Cox, A., Fader, J., Inderbitzin, M., Nurse, A., and Abrams, L. (2018) ‘Juvenile Corrections in an Era of Reform: A Meta-synthesis of Qualitative Studies’ International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, Vol. 62 Issue 7.

 Critical Perspectives on Risk Assessment

 Case, Stephen, and Kevin Haines. (2010) "Risky Business? The Risk in Risk Factor Research." Criminal Justice Matters 80, no. 1: 20-22.

 Kelly, P. (2000) The dangerousness of youth-at-risk: the possibilities of surveillance

and intervention in uncertain times. Journal of Adolescence, vol 23, no 463-


 Kemshall, H. (2008) ‘Risks, Rights and Justice: Understanding and Responding to Youth Risk.’ Youth Justice, 8, 21-37.

Provides a strong analysis of current policy responses to ‘risky’ youth.

 Swadener, B. B. (1995). Children and Families "at Promise": Deconstructing the Discourse of Risk, in Swadener, B. B. & Lubeck, S. (eds.) Children and Families "at Promise": Deconstructing the Discourse of Risk. Albany: State University of New York Press.

 Swadener, B. B. & Lubeck, S. (1995). The Social Construction of Children and Families "at Risk": An Introduction, in Swadener, B. B. & Lubeck, S. (eds.) Children and Families "at Promise": Deconstructing the Discourse of Risk. Albany: State University of New York.