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'A suitable person for suitable cases': the gendering of juvenile courts in England, c.1910-1939

By Anne F. Logan


This article examines the relationship between the introduction of women Justices of the Peace (JPs) in 1919 and the gendered development of juvenile courts in England, c. 1910–39. It argues that the campaigns for the appointment of women as JPs and for new methods of dealing with delinquent children were closely connected from 1910 onwards, when the proposal was first made that ‘suitable’ persons should be appointed to hear ‘suitable’ cases in magistrates courts. Using evidence drawn from government records and other sources, the article examines the interaction of the two campaigns and of feminist and penal reform groups in securing the remodelling of London's juvenile justice system in the Juvenile Courts (Metropolis) Act of 1920. It argues that these arrangements, and similar ones adopted elsewhere in England, consciously reflected presumed familial and gender roles. It concludes that the replication of the ‘traditional’ family in the composition of the court may have limited the ability of the youth justice system to be innovative in its approach to juvenile delinquency in the period up to 1939

Topics: H, HN, HV
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Year: 2005
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