The concept of juvenile justice first emerged in England during the middle ages. As American colonies became settled many of the England procedures carried over. Since the seventeenth century the American Juvenile Justice history can be divided into five periods. The first is the Puritan period (1646-1824). In 1646 Massachusetts Stubborn Child Law was created, this was colonist first attempt in dealing with problem children. Next was the Refuge Period (1824-1899). During this time the focus was more on delinquent and dependent children. Institutions were established to teach the children good work and study habits, discipline, and how to live in a healthy environment. Following this was the Juvenile Court Period (1899-1960). Reformers pushed to get a separate juvenile court system and succeeded. In 1899 Illinois established the first juvenile justice system and many others followed soon after. The fourth period is known as the Juvenile Rights Period (1960-1980), juveniles were given due process rights. They had the right to counsel, protection against double jeopardy between juvenile court and adult court, before a juvenile can be labeled delinquent there must be proof established beyond a reasonable doubt, and they do not have a constitutional right of trial by jury. The current period is The Crime Control Period (1980- Present). Due to the increase in crime rate and the number of juveniles committing crimes policies are focusing more on crime control. In 1984 the Supreme Court ruled that because of parens patriae (which was established in the England court system) juveniles could be held in detention until their court date or hearing (Cole and Smith).
Over the centuries the juvenile justice processes has changed tremendously from differing from the adult court system to becoming very similar to it. It still remains less formal and its intentions are to rehabilitate, but keep juveniles in the community.