This essay is the second in a two-part series focused on our nation’s invisible juvenile justice system—one that operates under the legal radar as part of the U.S. Constitution’s Article III federal district court system. The first publication, Article III Adultification of Kids: History, Mystery, and Troubling Implications of Federal Youth Transfers, examined the little-known practice of prosecuting children as adults in federal courts. This paper will look at the related phenomenon of juvenile delinquency matters that are filed and pursued in our nation’s federal court system.

To date, most scholarship evaluating youth prosecution has focused on our country’s juvenile courts—venues established and run in each of the individual states and territories. The anomaly of child prosecution under federal laws in our nation’s Article III courts has received far less attention—particularly over the last two decades. However, recent events suggest—and policies of the current presidential administration demonstrate—federal apprehension and prosecution of youth is a subject worthy of greater study.



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