Journal Issue: The Juvenile Court Volume 6 Number 3 Winter 1996
The Shift Away from the Lindsey Model
Most juvenile court judges could rely only on the existing institutional programs to change the children who came before the court. This was particularly true for the judges who could not follow Judge Lindsey's standard of using personal charisma to engage and change the youths who came before him. In addition to the institutions already in place, community-based intervention began through the use of probation. Even Lindsey relied to some extent on his probation staff to carry on his work of shepherding the court's children along the right path. In the other juvenile courts, probation officers were seen from the outset as critical to the success of the juvenile court's reformative enterprise.47 Securing funding for a paid probation staff became a top priority for courts.48
However, expanding caseloads and the increasing severity of the offenses committed by the juveniles made clear the limitations of relying on untrained probation officers.38 For example, Jane Addams in Chicago recalled that it was becoming apparent that "many of these children were psychopathic cases and they and other borderline cases needed more skilled care than the most devoted probation officer could give them."49 In 1908, the women's volunteer organization in Chicago raised funds to hire Dr. William A. Healy to undertake a scientific investigation of individual delinquents. Healy became director of the newly established Juvenile Psychopathic Institute in Chicago. There was much hope that the work of the institute would be the key to the court's success.49
With this development in Chicago, the reform of delinquents that was the core of the juvenile court moved a large step farther away from the judge and into the hands of other professionals. Volunteer probation officers evolved into college-trained personnel and graduate social workers. Over time, to this basic staff were added professional psychologists and psychiatric consultants. As a result, it became more and more difficult for judges to participate in the individual reform of the children who came before the court.
Healy's work at first supported the reform responsibilities taken on by the initial cohort of juvenile court judges. To Healy, institutions and their rehabilitative programs had little significance compared with a psychological understanding of each particular child's development. To the extent that such goals of individualized understanding had been generally adopted by judges, Healy's emphasis on the individual psychological life of children fell on fertile soil. His work gave rise to a child guidance movement that promised to raise considerably the efficiency of juvenile courts in their rehabilitation efforts. Dr. Healy and his wife and colleague, Dr. Augusta Bronner, were soon recruited to direct a child guidance clinic attached to the Boston juvenile court. Individualized dispositions, based on a scientific understanding of each child, would be the key.
Faith in the help from child guidance clinics was not to last. In 1934, criminologists Sheldon and Eleanor Glueck published the results of a follow-up study of delinquents from the Boston juvenile court who had had the benefit of clinic procedures. This study revealed a recidivism rate of nearly 90%.50 Court clinics continued to exist following the Gluecks' disclosures, but belief in the ability of the clinics to rehabilitate diminished.