Juvenile Justice

November 28, 1986

Report Outline
‘A Walking Time Bomb’
The Massachusetts Experiment
National Focus on Lesser Offenders
Special Focus

‘A Walking Time Bomb’

One night 16 years ago, Jerome G. Miller and Jessie Fay Sargent were in Bridgewater, Mass. He was the state's reform-minded commissioner of youth services and she was the wife of the Republican governor, Francis W. Sargent. Miller had been giving Mrs. Sargent tours of training schools and other state institutions for juvenile delinquents. On this night they were in Bridgewater for an unannounced look at a maximum-security facility, the Institute for Juvenile Guidance.

What they found inside was, in Miller's words, “a near riot, kids running for the walls and being pummeled around on the ground and handcuffed…[and being hauled off] to cells.” On the way back to their cars, Miller recalls, Mrs. Sargent remarked how awful the facility was and how unlikely it was that any of its graduates would emerge anything but worse for the experience. “So I kind of thought she'd probably tell that to the governor when she got home,” Miller says, “and I thought, well, maybe now's our chance to do something.”

What Miller did next was, in retrospect, the beginning of a radical experiment in demstitutionalization that would alter the face of juvenile justice in Massachusetts. He closed the Bridge-water institute by paroling must of its inmates and transferring the rest to other institutions.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Juveniles and the Justice System
Sep. 11, 2015  Reforming Juvenile Justice
Mar. 05, 2010  Youth Violence
Nov. 07, 2008  Juvenile Justice
Apr. 27, 2001  Kids in Prison
Mar. 15, 1996  Preventing Juvenile Crime
Feb. 25, 1994  Juvenile Justice
Jul. 17, 1987  Troubled Teenagers
Nov. 28, 1986  Juvenile Justice
Jul. 27, 1979  Juvenile Justice
Feb. 11, 1970  Juvenile Offenders
Jul. 17, 1957  Reform of Delinquents
Sep. 25, 1953  Youngsters in Trouble
Sep. 08, 1950  Teen-Age Lawbreakers
Feb. 23, 1943  Juvenile Delinquency
Juvenile Justice
Supreme Court History and Decisions