Juvenile Court Period (1900–1960) Reforms continued well into the 20th century. In this era, the reform movement was referred to as the Age of Reform or the Progressive Era. The child savers’ reform efforts continued under the Progressive Era. Although they focused primarily on juvenile delinquents and “sav- ing” them from their poor environments, the Progressives were focused on the individualized treatment of the juvenile delinquent. They argued that biological and psychological problems (as well as those in the environment, such as poverty) should be addressed in order to reha- bilitate troubled youth. Most significant, however, was the shift away from moral or religious explanations of crime to a focus on the individual’s biological or psychological health.
Several Progressive reforms emerged in the early 1900s. These reforms include four major interventions, all of which remain in the system today:
• Probation • Parole • Indeterminate sentencing • Establishment of a separate juvenile court
The Progressives believed that rehabilitation would be effective only if the system had mech- anisms in place to ensure the state could gauge what was appropriate for each youth. For example, they advocated for the increased use of community-based probation that would allow delinquents to remain in the community to receive services. Borrowing from the Elmira Reformatory, the reformers argued that release from institutions should be based on good behavior. In that vein, they argued that indeterminate sentencing was needed so that the state could better gauge its progress. For example, indeterminate sentences of varied lengths (e.g., two to four years versus a flat sentence of three years) would enable the state to assess whether juveniles were rehabilitated before they were released