Razing & Rebuilding Delinquency Courts: Demolishing the Flawed Philosophical Foundation of Parens Patriae

68 Pages Posted: 9 Aug 2023

See all articles by Eduardo R. Ferrer

Eduardo R. Ferrer

Georgetown Juvenile Justice Clinic & Initiative

Date Written: August 1, 2023

Abstract

Since its inception, the delinquency court has failed to live up to its purported mission of caring for the state’s children as a wise parent would care for their own. While poor implementation and a lack of resources has undoubtedly contributed to this failure, the main fault lies with the court’s fundamentally flawed foundational philosophy of parens patriae. This Article explores how parens patriae became the philosophical underpinning of the modern delinquency court. The Article deconstructs the doctrine’s history, its essential components, and the manner in which it has been applied to children through the delinquency court. Based on this analysis, the Article argues that parens patriae is chiefly responsible for the delinquency court’s perpetual prioritization of controlling youth over meaningfully caring for them. The Article concludes by calling for abandoning parens patriae as the philosophical underpinning of the modern delinquency court and removing its influence on the overall design of the delinquency court. Overall, this Article seeks to lay the foundation for abolishing the delinquency system as designed and replacing it with a system that is smaller, better, and more just.

Keywords: youth, child, delinquency, juvenile, court, parent, parens, patriae, abolish, law

Suggested Citation

Ferrer, Eduardo, Razing & Rebuilding Delinquency Courts: Demolishing the Flawed Philosophical Foundation of Parens Patriae (August 1, 2023). Loyola University Chicago Law Journal, Vol. 54, No. 885, 2023, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4535755

Eduardo Ferrer (Contact Author)

Georgetown Juvenile Justice Clinic & Initiative ( email )

111 F Street NW
Suite 128
Washington, DC 20001
United States

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