Schall v. Martin 467 U.S. 253 (1984)

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SCHALL v. MARTIN 467 U.S. 253 (1984)

This is one of several cases showing that legal fictions infect juvenile proceedings involving criminal conduct. Schall reflected the fictions that juveniles, unlike adults, "are always in some form of custody" and that preventive detention is not punitive and is designed to protect the youthful offender as well as society from the consequences of his uncommitted crimes. New York, without distinguishing first offenders from recidivists and without distinguishing trivial offenses from major crimes of violence, allowed juveniles, aged seven to sixteen, to be jailed for up to seventeen days pending adjudication of guilt. Justice william h. rehnquist, for a 6–3 Supreme Court, ruled that preventive detention in the case of juveniles is compatible with the fundamental fairness required by the fourteenth amendment's guarantee of due process of law. Rehnquist found adequate procedural safeguards in the New York statute, noted that every state permitted preventive detention of juveniles accused of crime, and declared that the juveniles' best interests were served because preventive detention disabled them from committing other crimes prior to the date of court appearance. Justices thurgood marshall, william j. brennan, and john paul stevens, dissenting, insisted that the majority's factual argument did not survive critical scrutiny any more than did the statute provide due process.

Leonard W. Levy