Schall v. Martin (1984) | Definition

Doc's CJ Glossary by Adam J. McKee


Course: Introduction / Juvenile Justice

Schall v. Martin (1984) was a SCOTUS decision that upheld a statute allowing for the pretrial detention of a juvenile judged to be a serious risk to the community.

Schall v. Martin was a landmark case in the United States Supreme Court that dealt with the pretrial detention of juveniles. The case involved a New York statute that allowed for the pretrial detention of juveniles if they were deemed to be a serious risk to the community. The case was heard by the Supreme Court in 1984 and resulted in a 6-3 decision in favor of the statute.

The case was brought before the Supreme Court by a group of juveniles who had been detained prior to their trial under the New York statute. They argued that the statute violated their constitutional rights, including their right to due process, equal protection, and freedom from cruel and unusual punishment.

The Supreme Court disagreed with their argument, ruling that the New York statute was constitutional. The Court held that pretrial detention of juveniles could be justified if there was a “compelling necessity” to protect the community from harm. The Court also stated that the detention of juveniles should be based on an individualized determination of their risk to the community.

The decision in Schall v. Martin was controversial and has been the subject of much debate among legal scholars and juvenile justice advocates. Some argue that the decision undermines the rehabilitative mission of the juvenile justice system by treating juveniles as if they were adults. Others argue that the decision is necessary to protect the community from dangerous juvenile offenders.

Despite the controversy surrounding the decision, Schall v. Martin remains an important case in the field of juvenile justice. It established the principle that pretrial detention of juveniles can be constitutional under certain circumstances and set the stage for future cases dealing with the detention of juveniles. The decision also highlighted the tension between the rehabilitative and punitive goals of the juvenile justice system and the need to balance public safety concerns with the rights of juveniles accused of crimes.

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Last Modified: 04/08/2023

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