Document Type



Since the creation of the first juvenile court in 1899, state training schools have been the primary place of confinement for children removed from their homes. In theory such places were supposed to be home-like and rehabilitative in their facilities and care. In reality they were usually impersonal, understaffed, unhealthy, and even dangerous institutions, devoid of rehabilitative programs. From the late 1960s to the early 1980s, advocates for children pursued legislative and other policy reforms. They argued that children in state institutions had both a statutory and constitutional €œright to treatment. In this context, the authors of this article reassess the doctrine of a constitutional right to treatment, test its continued validity in light of recent judicial opinions and legislative changes, and suggest a different formulation of a state'€™s obligation toward delinquent children in its care.