Other Free Encyclopedias » Law Library - American Law and Legal Information » Notable Trials and Court Cases - 1963 to 1972 » Kent v. United States - Significance, A Social Ill, Emotionally Ill, A System Ill, Juvenile Justice; Or How A Survey Can Influence An Act Of Congress

Kent v. United States - A System Ill

adult juvenile court ruling

More importantly than just ruling that juvenile offenders had the right to a waiver hearing, as well as access to their Social Service records, Fortas's opinion brought a new era of change to the juvenile justice system in the United States. The ruling, in essence, allowed that certain due-process procedures must still be followed even though a juvenile court case is technically a civil case, not a criminal one. The denial to Kent of certain safeguards normally allowed adult criminal defendants--evidenced by his week-long detention before arraignment--and then the arbitrary ruling that placed him in the much more severe realm of the adult criminal courts--seemed a definite factor in the decision. Fortas wrote of the abysmal state of the juvenile court system on the whole, and maintained that trade-off had not worked, and in effect, youthful offenders received neither constitutional protection nor the rehabilitative, lenient treatment that prevented them from growing into adult offenders. Justice Stewart and three of his colleagues on the bench dissented, asserting the case should have been sent to a court of appeals.

The Kent case was one of several significant Supreme Court decisions that granted minors charged with crimes the same guarantees as adult defendants. In essence, it began to treat an entire group as citizens, after several decades of denying them constitutional protections. This trend was reversed with McKeiver v. Pennsylvania (1971), which denied the right to a jury trial for minors.

Kent v. United States - Juvenile Justice; Or How A Survey Can Influence An Act Of Congress [next] [back] Kent v. United States - Emotionally Ill

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