Close to three quarters of a million cases flow through the United States’ juvenile justice system annually. Juvenile probation is the most commonly utilized form of sentencing, yet juvenile probation has not been the focus of sustained research or analysis. This Article focuses on School-Based Probation, a type of juvenile probation program that was created to enroll youth before a criminal charge has been filed. Described by its proponents as a “voluntarily probation” program, pre-delinquent, or “at-risk,” youth are identified by on-site school probation officers and enrolled in a supervised program. Deemed to be problematic by many jurisdictions, this Article critiques the School-Based Probation’s flaws in structure, design, and execution, suggesting such programs fail to serve their ostensible purpose of promoting youth safety and balancing risk. By examining how this kind of program operates, this Article provides a glimpse into the larger scheme of juvenile probation practices. Moreover, the Article reveals just how wide the carceral web has been woven. Beyond mere policing of youth in school spaces, this School-Based Probation ensnarls innocent children into a web of incarceration. Although juvenile probation is frequently invoked as positive alternative to juvenile incarceration, the Author argues that juvenile probation should instead be analyzed as part of the continuum of excessive penal control in America.
21 Nev. L.J. 1117 (2021).