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13 - Reformers United: The American and the German Juvenile Court, 1882-1923

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 January 2013

Norbert Finzsch
Affiliation:
Universität Hamburg
Robert Jütte
Affiliation:
Universität Hamburg
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Summary

COMMON GROUND: A TIME OF CRISIS

“What can we learn from America in treating our neglected and criminal juveniles?” was the blatantly rhetorical question that Paul Blumenthal, a junior law court official in Berlin, asked in 1909 after having journeyed to the United States. Blumenthals answer in his short book was entirely positive. In the three decades before World War I, American methods in dealing with “dependent, neglected and criminal children” served as model for continental European social reformers. There was an obvious reason for this. By 1880, industrialization and urbanization had become a fact of life - with unsettling consequences both in the United States and, for instance, in the German Empire. It was not surprising, then, that contemporaries should apply a comparative approach to what they felt were the social problems common to all. From a continental European perspective, the United States was also a young country, unfettered by traditional precedents and legal inhibitions. Continental European reformers saw the United States in other words as a social laboratory for reform experiments in social welfare, crime policy, and criminal justice.

Type
Chapter
Information
Institutions of Confinement
Hospitals, Asylums, and Prisons in Western Europe and North America, 1500–1950
, pp. 235 - 274
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 1997

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