The Black Child-SaversRacial Democracy and Juvenile Justice

The Black Child-SaversRacial Democracy and Juvenile Justice

Geoff K. Ward

Print publication date: 2013

ISBN: 9780226873169

Publisher: University of Chicago Press


During the Progressive Era, a rehabilitative agenda took hold of American juvenile justice, materializing as a citizen-and-state-building project and mirroring the unequal racial politics of American democracy itself. Alongside this liberal “manufactory of citizens” a parallel structure was enacted: a Jim Crow juvenile justice system that endured across the nation for most of the twentieth century. This book examines the origins and organization of this separate and unequal juvenile justice system. The book explores how generations of “black child-savers” mobilized to challenge the threat to black youth and community interests and how this struggle grew aligned with a wider civil rights movement, eventually forcing the formal integration of American juvenile justice. This book reveals nearly a century of struggle to build a more democratic model of juvenile justice—an effort that succeeded in part, but ultimately failed to deliver black youth and community to liberal rehabilitative ideals.