D. Incompatibility with State Purposes of Juvenile Justice

The purported shift from a civil system of intervention and cure to a criminal system of guilt and punishment affected individual state systems of juvenile justice, and states began to rethink the purposes behind their juvenile justice systems. The National Center for Juvenile Justice (NCJJ) found that despite changes in philosophy and rhetoric, most states continue to adhere to the traditional goals underlying the first juvenile justice system. Furthermore, as scholars have argued, changes to the system have resulted not in reformation, but transformation. Thus, the effects of procedural changes detailed above remain unclear in light of the stated purposes of juvenile justice.

The NCJJ establishes five different categories that most states generally fall into based on their defined juvenile court purposes: (1) balanced and restorative justice, (2) standard Juvenile Court Act, (3) legislative guide, (4) emphasis on punishment, deterrence, accountability, and/or public safety, and (5) traditional child welfare. The categories are not mutually exclusive, as state statutes often exhibit characteristics of more than one category. A brief overview of the categories demonstrates that most states still adhere to at least some of the traditional verbiage and principles of juvenile justice.

Shaming punishments are not entirely inconsistent with all five of the NCJJ's categories, especially those states that embrace punishment and protection of society, not the youth's well-being. Nevertheless, many of the state statutes contain language reminiscent to the original purposes of juvenile justice, intervention, protection, and rehabilitation, and unregulated, judicially imposed shaming punishments undermine these goals by imposing a punishment of unknown effectiveness, capable of exposing the juvenile and stripping away his confidentiality in the system.

As of 2005, at least seventeen states defined their juvenile court system as part of a plan of balanced and restorative justice, encompassing a balance of public safety, individual accountability for the offense, and offender development/rehabilitation. For example, in Maryland, the Juvenile Causes Act governs juvenile court proceedings, and the stated purpose of the Act includes protection, care, and a program of services and treatment for the youth. Maryland's rhetoric rings of the goals of the Progressive era and implies the necessity of a holistic, balanced approach to juvenile rehabilitation. Alabama, a state categorized by the NCJJ as balanced and restorative justice-like, invokes language similar to the traditional underpinnings of juvenile justice but also acknowledges that the juvenile court must also protect the public welfare safety. Part of the stated purpose of the Alabama Juvenile Justice Act includes secur [ing] for any child . . . the necessary treatment, care, guidance, and discipline to assist him or her in becoming a responsible, productive member of Like Maryland, the Alabama Juvenile Justice Act addresses services to treat children and prevent further delinquent activity. Although Alabama accepts the need to balance the juvenile's needs against the public welfare and the desirability of holding a juvenile accountable for their actions, both Alabama and Maryland seek to protect juveniles in traditional ways. Both states seek to rehabilitate the offender and offer the juvenile protections similar to those a parent would provide his child by providing care and treatment. Shaming punishments are generally inconsistent with this category.

Seventeen states model the purposes of their court system on the language of the Standard Juvenile Court Act The SJCA was issued in 1925, but the more influential version was created in 1959 by the National Council of Juvenile Court Judges (now the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges), the National Probation and Parole Association (now the National Council on Crime and Delinquency), and the U.S. Children's Bureau (now in the U.S. Department of Health and Human States following this model emphasize balancing the needs of a youth in juvenile court with the needs of the state and providing a home-like environment to juveniles adjudged dependent.

The stated purpose of Michigan's Juvenile Code is almost identical to that of the SJCA. Although it is not as reminiscent of traditional juvenile justice ideals as Maryland or Alabama, Michigan still recognizes the state's responsibility to protect and care for juveniles in ways similar to the ideals of parens patriae. Maine, another state classified by the NCJJ as retaining some of the language of the SJCA, also recognizes the desirability of maintaining the family unit, providing treatment for the juvenile, and punishing the youth when the offense is serious enough. Both states clearly contain elements of parens patriae, and although both also contemplate the interests of the public welfare, goals of child protection and rehabilitation can be inferred. Shaming punishments are the most inconsistent with SJCA states. SJCA states rely on the doctrine of parens patriae, but they also seek to protect and rehabilitate the child. Maintaining public safety is a secondary concern to the goal of intervening positively in the child's life.

Twelve states either follow or contain language from the Legislative Guide for Drafting Family and Juvenile Court Acts, which emphasizes developing the overall well-being of the child, replacing criminality with rehabilitation, maintaining the integrity of the family home, and assuring just and fair proceedings. Vermont, one of the six states closely following the Legislative Guide, is an example of this balance. Vermont strives to rehabilitate juveniles and to remove the label of criminality from delinquency proceedings while also protecting the community, compensating victims, and holding offenders accountable. The NCJJ classifies Texas as retaining elements of the Legislative Guide but not following them explicitly. Texas lists public safety first among its purposes but also discusses the development and protection of the child, as well the fairness of the proceedings. Vermont, as opposed to Texas, strives to remove the concept of criminality from its juvenile justice system. Both states, however, seek to preserve the family and promote the development of the offender. While neither openly promotes parens patriae, both contain elements of the doctrine. Although ultimately a matter of degree, shaming is also fairly inconsistent with these and other states modeling their juvenile courts after the Legislative Guide for Drafting Family and Juvenile Courts Acts. Shaming is most consistent with states incorporating criminality and public safety, but even these states often consider the child's well-being and rehabilitation as well.

The NCJJ classifies six states as tough because their stated purposes emphasize punishment, deterrence, community safety, and individual accountability. Both Wyoming and Texas are multi-category states, having adopted some language from the Legislative Guide into their statutes but further including punishment as a key goal. Wyoming strives to remove the taint of criminality from certain acts and to rehabilitate the juvenile to become a successful member of society. Finally, at least three states emphasize the best interests of the youth in their states purposes for their juvenile court systems. These states emphasize the welfare of the youth and the necessity of rehabilitating and guiding delinquents to become productive members of society. Shaming sanctions are generally consistent with tough states, as well as states emphasizing the best interest of the child, although they also contain inconsistent elements. For example, Wyoming's system avoids punitive sanctions in favor of rehabilitation and prevention, marking it as reminiscent of traditional juvenile justice ideals. Also, states promoting the child's best interest focus on long-term for societal reintegration, not immediate punishment. Intervention in a child's life is another holdover from the Progressive movement.

Despite the differences in classification, most states continue to acknowledge, either directly or indirectly, some traditional elements of juvenile justice: intervention, protection, and rehabilitation. Some states are more explicit in their protections, while others balance those protections against the needs of the state. Overwhelmingly, however, states seek to promote the care and well-being of the child through positive services and programs. State juvenile courts systems are not the idealistic ones envisioned by Progressive reformers, but the fundamentals of parens patriae are still evident. Shaming punishments that criminalize and create public stigma for a juvenile offense are inconsistent with this doctrine, and with the states seeking to intervene and protect the child offender.