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Juveniles and Criminal Culpability: A Research Guide

A guide to researching Texas and national "raise the age" law and legislation. Created by Shelby Sterling, Texas A&M University School of Law, for the Summer 2017 Texas Legal Research Practicum.

Treatises & Texts

Westlaw offers two of the most organized and on-point resources: Texas Jurisprudence and the Texas Practice Series. Both resources are excellent places to start research. Texas Jurisprudence is a legal encyclopedia that is available in print and online via Westlaw. By navigating “TexJur” on Westlaw, you can scroll through the list of available legal topics. The Texas Practice Series is a great resource via Westlaw that provides an extensive index of numerous legal topics. Both resources offer a broad overview of numerous topics as well as summaries and annotations to cases.

Texas Practice Series, Juvenile Law & Practice

The Texas Practice Series includes this section without a summary; however, each large section provides a summary of the law. The first subsection, titled “Delinquent Children and Children in Need of Supervision,” provides a description of the purpose of enacting the Juvenile Justice Code in Title 3 of the Family Code. This resource not only allows a researcher background knowledge on this subject, but also provides annotations to additional resources. Additionally, this Summary of the Law includes background information from the history of juvenile justice to the sealing of files and records to the defense of juveniles and children. This proves to be a significant resource for a researcher to begin with.

Texas Jurisprudence, 31 Tex. Jur. 3d - Delinquent Children

Westlaw describes this text as “discuss[ing] statutory and case law governing delinquent children and children in need of supervision.” Further, this text “treats the nature and functions of the juvenile court, the transfer of proceedings, the rights of the child, and the waiver of such rights, as well as the rights of victims, the juvenile justice information system, progressive sanctions model and the rights and responsibilities of parents and other eligible persons. It encompasses proceedings prior to and including referral to juvenile court and prior to judicial proceedings. Also receiving coverage are judicial proceedings, including the detention hearing; a juvenile court's waiver of its exclusive original jurisdiction and discretionary transfer of a child to the appropriate district court or criminal district court for criminal proceedings, or to an appropriate justice court if the child is alleged to have engaged in certain truant conduct; the adjudication hearing; the disposition hearing; the hearing to modify disposition; and the release hearing. The article also discusses juvenile court proceedings involving mentally ill and mentally retarded children, and appellate review of juvenile court judgments and orders. In addition, the article treats the composition, functions, and duties of the Texas Juvenile Justice Department and discusses the Uniform Interstate Compact on Juveniles as well.”

Law Review & Bar Journal Articles

While treatises are generally very broad and short, journal articles typically provide an in depth coverage of specific topics. The following articles provide some in depth coverage of the significance to raise the age and the consequences of treating juveniles as adults in the criminal justice system, in addition to the history of the juvenile system in Texas. After getting a general understanding of the topic through the resources listed above, I recommend these articles as well as searching additional journal articles. Besides helping to better understand the law, the articles make policy arguments that help one form a more knowledgeable view the current system in Texas.

Michele Deitch, Rebecca Breeden, and Ross Weingarten, "Seventeen, Going on Eighteen: An Operational and Fiscal Analysis of a Proposal to Raise the Age of Juvenile Jurisdiction in Texas", 40 Am. J. Crim. L. 1 (2012)

This article discusses the slower development of young adolescents in addition to examining the potential operational and fiscal impact on Texas if the age were to be raised. As one of the leading issues cited by the opposition of raising the age in Texas, the authors develop and explain an extensive cost-benefit analysis. In conclusion, the authors conclude that raising the age of juvenile jurisdiction would be “beneficial to the state’s youthful offenders with no detrimental effect on public safety” and it would be beneficial to Texas and all of it’s citizens in the long run.

Jennifer L. Skeem, Elizabeth Scott, & Edward P. Mulvey, "Justice Policy Reform for High-Risk Juveniles: Using Science to Achieve Large-Scale Crime Reduction", 10 Ann. Rev. Clin. Psychol. 709 (2014)

Analyzing the reform in juvenile crime regulation since this intriguing period of reform began, this article synthesizes research to help resolve the challenge facing juvenile reform in terms of who are high-risk juveniles, who needs intensive treatment, and who needs institutional placement. In conclusion, the authors believe that “early adolescence offers unique opportunities for risk reduction that could be realized in the juvenile justice system.”


Books are the very foundation of all research—at least in the past. While the Internet is intriguing with it’s abundance of information, it can sometimes be overwhelming, fee-based, and difficult to navigate. The library is an under-utilized resource and librarians can often be a better resource than a search bar on the Internet may ever be. In the Dee J. Kelly Law Library, it is quite simple to search the online catalog. Once on the website, which can be accessed from the Texas A&M School of Law website here, all someone needs to do is type in key search terms related to the research topic.

G. Larry May and Rick Ruddell, Do the Crime, Do the Time: Juvenile Criminals and Adult Justice in the American Court System (2012)

This book can be found in print in the Dee J. Kelly Law Library. It provides readers with an educational overview of the juvenile justice system and analyzes the challenges that young criminal offenders face today. Further, the authors analyze the practice of transfer laws, which involve the transfer of youth to adult criminal courts. The depth and analysis by the authors is exceptionally well founded and provides an adequate basis for researching juvenile justice.

National Research Council, Implementing Juvenile Justice Reform: The Federal Role (2014)

As the issues of juvenile justice reform continue across local, tribal, and state jurisdictions, practitioners in the juvenile justice field are seeking guidance from the federal government. As a result of the National Research Council’s hard work and research, this book identifies and prioritizes policies and strategies to “effectively facilitate reform of the juvenile justice system and develop an implementation plan for OOJDP.”