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Since the creation of the first juvenile court in 1899, juvenile courts have undergone periods of transition in response to legislative enactments prompted by societal events or in response to legal challenges involving due process rights of children. This Article examines politics and the extent in which it played a role in shaping juvenile justice and crime policies and its impact on children and public safety. In this critical review of each period of transition, this Article concludes that the lack of success among juvenile justice agencies, including the courts, is predominately the result of the politicizing of crime and punishment in the United States. This politicization consequently disrupts efforts to employ programs and practices that empirical evidence has shown to prevent and reduce delinquency. Using Georgia’s approach to juvenile justice reform as a case study, this Article shows how using a collaborative approach coupled with employing a methodical analytic decision making process de‑politicizes the issues, allowing for a discussion of programs and practices that work.

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