Developmental Insights and System ChallengesChristopher J. Sullivan
A pragmatic and comprehensive look at delinquency and juvenile justice through a developmental lens.
The juvenile justice system navigates a high degree of variation in youthful offenders. While professionals with insights about reform and adolescent development consider the risks, the needs, and the patterns of delinquency of youth, too little attention is paid to the responses and practicalities of a system that is both complex and limited in its resources.
In his essential book, Taking Juvenile Justice Seriously, Christopher Sullivan systematically analyzes key facets of justice-involved youth populations and parses cases to better understand core developmental influences that affect delinquency. He takes a comprehensive look at aspects of the life-course affected by juvenile justice as well as at the juvenile justice system’s operations and its multifaceted mission of delivering both treatment and sanctions to a varied population of youths.
Taking Juvenile Justice Seriously first provides an overview of the youth who encounter the system, then describes its present operations and obstacles, synthesizes relevant developmental insights, and reviews current practices. Drawing on research, theory, and evidence regarding innovative policies, Sullivan offers a series of well-grounded recommendations that suggest how to potentially—and realistically—implement a more effective juvenile justice system that would benefit all.
"Sullivan makes a significant contribution to our thinking about the ideal of developmental juvenile justice and how this can be achieved. It does not take the easy road by offering pie-in-the-sky solutions. Instead, serious consideration is given to the structural and ideological challenges in juvenile justice and his book charts a path for incremental policy change. Importantly, it also does not shy away from the work that needs to be done within the system for juveniles that require sanctions. Sullivan has written a brilliant book, with both depth and breadth on the subject.”— Brandon C. Welsh, Professor of Criminology at Northeastern University, and lead author of Experimental Criminology: Prospects for Advancing Science and Public Policy
“Taking Juvenile Justice Seriously offers a timely and important depiction of the juvenile justice system with innovative insight towards progress. Sullivan’s comprehensive argument—that stakeholders and practitioners adopt a developmental juvenile justice approach that is responsive while also considering the ecological system such as families, communities, and society—is convincing. Impressive for its breadth and depth, Taking Juvenile Justice Seriously is a must-read for students, scholars, and policymakers alike.”—Anthony A. Peguero, Associate Professor of Sociology and Criminology at Virginia Tech and Director of the Laboratory for the Study of Youth Inequality and Justice
"Sullivan does a great job looking at the juvenile justice system from a developmental psychology perspective. I would recommend that those who work in the juvenile justice system and want to gain a better understanding of how to help juveniles in the system achieve success, thereby not ending up in the adult system, read this book."
— Corrections Today
"Sullivan assesses the current juvenile justice system with an eye toward making recommendations for the future. He examines the nature of the juvenile court and the juvenile offender, making effective use of case histories and data-based assessments.... He advocates for a diagnostic and treatment process that emphasizes developmental theory. The writing is sophisticated.... Summing Up: Recommended."
"Taking Juvenile Justice Seriously is a book focused on analyzing science and empirical evidence relating to the juvenile justice system and the youths who encounter it. Christopher Sullivan attempts to balance the valuable insight and idealistic solutions offered in response to this evidence with the practical difficulties of implementing them in the juvenile justice system.."
— Journal of Youth and Adolescence