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Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

CUYAHOGA COUNTY JUVENILE COURT

CUYAHOGA COUNTY JUVENILE COURT

The CUYAHOGA COUNTY JUVENILE COURT, the second of its kind in the U.S., was based on the Illinois Act of 1899 which created a juvenile court in Cook County, IL. It initiated new concepts in the juvenile justice movement and was instrumental in setting national standards for more enlightened treatment of juvenile offenders. Created by the Ohio legislature on 8 Apr. 1902, the Insolvency & Juvenile Court, as it was first named, owed its existence to the foresight and interest of city solicitor NEWTON D. BAKER and GLEN K. SHURTLEFF, general secretary of the YMCA. They had studied the poor condition of children in the jails of the county and began a movement to establish a court especially for juvenile offenders. The early court, believing in treatment and rehabilitation rather than punishment, found employment for neglected juveniles under 16, appointed guardians, operated a boarding home, and established the CLEVELAND BOYS SCHOOL at Hudson (1903). In 1904 the court was given the power to impose fines on adults, and in 1908 contributing adults could be punished by a fine and jail sentence. In 1913 jurisdictional age was raised to 18.

From 1926-60 the court was run by Judge HARRY L. EASTMAN. During his tenure many improvements were made in the physical, mental, and emotional evaluation and treatment of juvenile offenders, under the guidance of experienced professionals. The volume of work was so great that in 1931 the insolvency court was abolished and the juvenile court became a separate entity. In 1932 a new court complex was occupied at E. 22nd St. between Cedar and Central avenues. During the 1960s and 1970s, the court lessened its jurisdiction over noncriminal misbehavior or status offenses, and in the 1970s and 1980s neighborhood branches were organized to handle probation and intake. Children under 18 are now afforded most of the due-process rights held by adults.


Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court Citizens' Committee, Golden Jubilee (1952).