A recently published book (Oxford University Press) in the American Psychology-Law Society’s Book Series provides a great resource for scholars, policy makers, and practitioners involved with the juvenile justice system in the United States. This article provides a summary of the contents of the book and some brief comments about the book.

About the American Psychology-Law Society Book Series

The American Psychology-Law Society (APLS; Division 41 of the American Psychological Association) is an interdisciplinary organization devoted to scholarship, practice, and public service in psychology and law. Its goals include advancing the contributions of psychology to the understanding of law and legal institutions through basic and applied research; promoting the education of psychologists in matters of law and the education of legal personnel in matters of psychology; and informing the psychological and legal communities and the general public of current research, educational, and service activities in the field of psychology and law. APLS membership includes psychologists from the academic, research, and clinical practice communities as well as members of the legal community. Research and practice is represented in both the civil and criminal legal arenas. The APLS Book Series serves as an outlet for bringing the latest developments in psychology and law to the public and the psycholegal community. APLS has chosen Oxford University Press as a strategic partner because of its commitment to scholarship, quality, and the international dissemination of ideas. These strengths will help APLS reach its goal of educating the psychology and legal professions and the general public about important developments in psychology and law. The focus of the book series reflects the diversity of the field of psychology and law, as we will publish books on a broad range of topics.

Editor’s Comments about Juveniles at Risk: A Plea for Preventive Justice


As the current Editor of the APLS Book Series, it is my pleasure to get to work with authors in developing their proposals and their books for this series and to make a few comments about each of their books in the series foreword. In Juveniles at Risk: A Plea for Preventive Justice, Christopher Slobogin and Mark R. Fondacaro propose a new conception of the juvenile court, based on risk management and prevention. This fresh approach reinvigorates the juvenile court’s rehabilitative roots without succumbing to the paternalism that has led American courts to mandate adult-type procedures and legislatures to impose adult-type punishments in juvenile court. In addition, the focus on prevention dismisses the notion that culpability be the linchpin of the juvenile justice system.

Slobogin and Fondacaro begin by recounting the history of the juvenile court and describing four possible models of juvenile justice: rehabilitative, adult retribution, diminished retribution, and individual prevention. They then summarize the research on what is known about the causes of juvenile crime, how those causes might differ from those associated with adult crime, and the methods for reducing juvenile recidivism in an attempt to answer a number of important questions: Why do so many juveniles engage in bad behavior? What distinguishes juveniles who engage in such behavior from those who do not? Why do most juveniles who engage in antisocial behavior desist once they become adults? Why do some of these juveniles continue their wayward path even after age 18? Are there interventions that can reduce juvenile crime and the likelihood of crime in adulthood? The answers to these questions and conclusions drawn from this research provide the basis for the individual prevention model of juvenile justice presented in this book and justified from both theoretical and pragmatic perspectives.

Juveniles at Risk presents a detailed description of the individual prevention model and includes case studies that allow for comparison and contrast between this model and the rehabilitative and retributive regimes. Both the substantive aspects of juvenile justice as well as the procedural framework are described. Slobogin and Fondacaro discuss the implications of the available research and propose that due process in juvenile justice be reconceptualized in a way that allows empirical research and a performance-based management system to identify those procedures that might best promote fairness, accuracy, and efficiency. Concrete proposals are made with respect to competency requirements, the right to remain silent, the right to a jury trial, and various other components of the pretrial and trial process.

Scholars, policymakers, and practitioners will undoubtedly find that this book will shape the future of juvenile justice. The application of criminal law jurisprudence to juveniles and the connections made between the jurisprudence and social science findings about adolescents will appeal to scholars; the information on treatment efficacy and cost, the specific suggestions on how to implement substantive and procedural changes to the system, and the way in which the general theme of prevention can be used rhetorically to achieve real reform in the juvenile justice system will appeal to policymakers and those who advise them; and the wealth of advocacy data presented throughout will appeal to both legal and clinical practitioners. Juveniles at Risk is sure to revolutionize legal thinking about juvenile justice.

Publisher’s Description

First established at the end of the 19th century, the juvenile justice system has long been searching for an effective set of guiding principles. Over the last hundred years, through a series of piecemeal rulings, it has undergone an evolution from its original foundation on the rehabilitation model to the current “get-tough” system that increasingly treats juvenile offenders as adults. At present, there is no overarching theory or model of juvenile justice intervention in this nation or even in any given state. Juvenile justice policy is best characterized as a helter-skelter array, inconsistent across jurisdictions, with no overarching theoretical framework providing guidance. Indeed, the field is desperately in need of a coherent model to serve as a guide to policymaking.

In recent years, substantial gains have been made in the relevant knowledge on juveniles and offender treatment. We know more about the cognition and functioning of minors generally, and juvenile offenders specifically, as well as about how they respond to different types of interventions. Public attitudes have softened since the height of the “get-tough” era, and many policymakers are open to new ideas as they recognize that the current system just isn’t effective. In this book, Slobogin and Fondacaro present their vision for a new juvenile justice system, founded on the evidence at hand and promoting the principles of rehabilitation and reintegration into society. The authors develop their juvenile justice policy proposals effectively by carefully addressing the problems with past policy approaches and recent theoretical contributions, the science underlying the new perspective to be elucidated in the book and how that science informs the authors’ perspectives. Most helpfully, they provide a detailed description of the proposed new model along with discussion of the procedural rules that should accompany its implementation, and articulation of the way in which the model would work in practice. For researchers and policymakers involved in juvenile justice, this book is a call to arms and a model for future developments.

Author Information

Christopher Slobogin

Christopher Slobogin is Milton Underwood Professor of Law, Vanderbilt University Law School. He has authored more than 100 articles, books and chapters on topics relating to criminal procedure, mental health law and evidence. Director of Vanderbilt Law School’s Criminal Justice Program, he is one of the 10 most cited criminal law and procedure law professors in the nation, according to the Leiter Report. The book Psychological Evaluations for the Courts, which he co-authored with another lawyer and two psychologists, is considered the standard-bearer in forensic mental health; in recognition for his work in that field, he was named an Honorary Distinguished Member of the American Psychology-Law Society in 2008. Professor Slobogin has also served as reporter for the American Bar Association’s Task Force on Law Enforcement and Technology and its Task Force on the Insanity Defense, and chair of the Florida Assessment Team for the ABA’s Death Penalty Moratorium Implementation Project. In addition, he helped draft standards dealing with mental disability and the death penalty that have been adopted by the ABA, the American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association. Professor Slobogin joined Vanderbilt’s faculty in 2008, having previously held the Stephen C. O’Connell chair at the University of Florida’s Levin College of Law. Over the course of his career, he has been a visiting professor at Stanford Law School, where he was the Edwin A. Heafey Visiting Scholar, as well as at the Universities of Virginia, Southern California and California – Hastings. He has also taught at the University of Frankfurt Law School in Germany and the University of Kiev, Ukraine, where he was a Fulbright Scholar. He has appeared on Good Morning America, Nightline, the Today Show, National Public Radio, and many other media outlets, and has been cited in over 2,000 law review articles or treatises and over 100 judicial opinions, including at the Supreme Court level. Professor Slobogin has a secondary appointment as Professor in the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine’s Department of Psychiatry.

Mark Fondacaro

Mark R. Fondacaro is Professor of Psychology, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York. Before joining the faculty at John Jay College of Criminal Justice as a Professor of Psychology, Dr. Fondacaro was an Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Florida and an Associate Director of the Levin College of Law’s Center on Children and Families. Dr. Fondacaro has a wide range of research interests including procedural and distributive justice, multicultural competence and decision making, ecological jurisprudence, family conflict resolution, and juvenile justice. He has taught courses in abnormal psychology, law and psychology, scientific evidence, children’s law, criminal law, and mental health law. Before joining the University of Florida faculty in 1997, Dr. Fondacaro was a Research Assistant Professor at the University of Nebraska’s Center on Children, Families and the Law. He received his B.A. from the State University of New York at Stony Brook and his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Indiana University-Bloomington. Dr. Fondacaro received post-doctoral training at Stanford University and is a graduate of Columbia Law School.

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Image courtesy of Oxford University Press.