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States of Delinquency

Race and Science in the Making of California's Juvenile Justice System

Miroslava Chavez-Garcia (Author)

Available worldwide

Paperback, 314 pages
ISBN: 9780520271722
February 2012
$29.95, £24.00
Other Formats Available:
This unique analysis of the rise of the juvenile justice system from the nineteenth to twentieth centuries uses one of the harshest states—California—as a case study for examining racism in the treatment of incarcerated young people of color. Using rich new untapped archives, States of Delinquency is the first book to explore the experiences of young Mexican Americans, African Americans, and ethnic Euro-Americans in California correctional facilities including Whittier State School for Boys and the Preston School of Industry. Miroslava Chávez-García examines the ideologies and practices used by state institutions as they began to replace families and communities in punishing youth, and explores the application of science and pseudo-scientific research in the disproportionate classification of youths of color as degenerate. She also shows how these boys and girls, and their families, resisted increasingly harsh treatment and various kinds of abuse, including sterilization.
List of Illustrations
1. Building Juvenile Justice Institutions in California
2. Fred C. Nelles: Innovative Reformer, Conservative Eugenicist
3. Mildred S. Covert: Eugenics Fieldworker, Racial Pathologist
4. Cristobal, Fred, Tony, and Albert M.: Specimens in Scientific Research and Race Betterment
5. Otto H. Close: Promising Leader, Complacent Bureaucrat
6. The Legacy of Benny Moreno and Edward Leiva: “Defective Delinquents” or Tragic Heroes?
Epilogue: Recovering Youths’ Voices
Miroslava Chávez-García is Associate Professor of Chicano/a Studies at the University of California, Davis. She is the author of Negotiating Conquest: Gender and Power in California, 1770s to 1880s.
“[States of Delinquency] is a tour de force of historical research. . . . A valuable resource for the student and the citizen who wants to understand the historical legacy leading to the ongoing pattern of state-sanctioned child maltreatment in the juvenile justice system.”—Criminal Law & Crim Justice Bks / Criminal Justice Abstracts
"Indispensable reading. . . . An excellent piece of research that shows how the state can sometimes work in ways that are harmful to childrens' welfare."—Sarah M. Nadolny Journal of Youth Adolescence
"Masterful examination . . . A major contribution to carceral and reform histories."—Robert T. Chase The Journal of American History
“Miroslava Chávez-García digs into long-forgotten files and humanizes the forgotten victims of injustice. States of Delinquency exposes the hidden racial dynamics of California’s juvenile justice system and makes us re-think the history of the child-saving movement.”—Tony Platt, author of The Child Savers: The Invention of Delinquency

“Impressively researched and passionately argued, States of Delinquency shows how racial prejudice and bogus social science reshaped early twentieth century juvenile corrections in California. Chavez-Garcia recreates both the everyday world of reform schools and the lives of delinquent youth, especially minorities, who were unfortunate enough to be confined there (or, worse, reassigned to special hospitals for sterilization). This book is an innovative, disquieting, and vividly detailed contribution to historical scholarship on the theory and practice of American juvenile justice.”—Steven Schlossman, author of Transforming Juvenile Justice.

“A fascinating and compelling study that reconstructs the forgotten lives of California's marginalized and criminalized youth. States of Delinquency illuminates the unsettling history of the juvenile justice system and demonstrates its relevance to the disproportionate incarceration of racial and ethnic minorities today.”—Alexandra Minna Stern, author of Eugenic Nation: Faults and Frontiers of Better Breeding in Modern America.

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