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Youth Justice in America

Youth Justice in America

Second Edition

Social Policy

July 2014 | 368 pages | CQ Press

Youth Justice in America, Second Edition engages students in an exciting, informed discussion of the U.S. juvenile justice system and fills a pressing need to make legal issues personally meaningful to young people. Written in a straightforward style, the book addresses tough, important issues that directly affect today's youth, including the rights of accused juveniles, search and seizure, self-incrimination and confession, right to appeal, and the death penalty for juveniles. Focusing on cases that relate to the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Eighth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, the subject matter comes alive through a wide variety of in-book learning aids. 

Chapter 1: American Society, Crime, and the Constitution
The Constitution and Crime

“We the People” and the War on Drugs: Politicians and Their Families, Athletes, Entertainers

Criminal Justice: Not the End of the Story

The American System of Juvenile Justice

Chapter 2: What Is Crime?
Constitutional Limits on Government’s Power to Make Crimes

The Structure of Criminal Laws

Chapter 3: The Second Amendment, Youth, and Schools
The Second Amendment and Young People

The Second Amendment and Schools

Chapter 4: Fourth Amendment: Protection from Unreasonable Searches and Seizures
The Right to Be Left Alone

The Exclusionary Rule

Reasonable Expectation of Privacy

Fourth Amendment Search

Other Expectations of Privacy

What Is a Seizure?

Probable Cause and the Warrant Requirement

Chapter 5: Exceptions Swallow the Rule: Warrantless Searches
Exception 1: Emergency Circumstances

Exception 2: Plain View

Exception 3: Search Incident to an Arrest

Exception 4: Automobile Exception

Exception 5: Consensual Searches

Exception 6: Stop and Frisk

Exclusionary Rule Review

Chapter 6: School Searches
Search of Belongings

Drug Testing and After-School Activities

Drug Testing for All Students?

Strip Searches

Metal Detectors and the Constitution

Chapter 7: Fifth Amendment: Privilege against Self-Incrimination
The Screaming Eagle

Protections against Self-Incrimination

Juveniles and the Miranda Warnings

What Is Custody?

Pull Over, Jack

What Is Interrogation?

The Dangers of False Confession

Chapter 8: Sixth Amendment: Right to Counsel
The Right to Legal Counsel

Role of Legal Counsel

Role of the Defense

Right to Counsel for Juveniles

Right to Effective Counsel

Reality of Ineffective Counsel

A Quick Career Quiz

Chapter 9: Cruel and Unusual Punishment
The Death Penalty Today

The Death Penalty and Juveniles

Turning Over a New Leaf?

Juveniles and Life Imprisonment Without Parole

Chapter 10: The Future of Youth Justice
The Goals of Criminal Punishment

Record Prison Populations

The Racial Dynamics of the Criminal Justice System

Felon and Ex-Felon Disenfranchisement

Gendered Offenders

Life in Prison without Parole

Key features


  • New cases deal with recent events such as the killing of Trayvon Martin and court rulings on strip searches at school, life sentences without parole for juveniles, and electronic surveillance.
  • New chapter on the Second Amendment.
  • “Dissenting Voices” sections provide context for minority judicial opinions.
  • Examples throughout the book are drawn from recent events in the popular culture to capture students’ interest.


  • Selections from key cases (often with young people as litigants) help students understand the American criminal justice system.
  • Easy-to-read definitions of important terms and concepts are provided in the margins to facilitate student comprehension.
  • Photos, individual and class exercises, and sources for further reading enrich the presentation and help students master key concepts.

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