The Magna Carta for Juveniles: In Re Gault Turns 50


right to counsel, juvenile justice, youthful offenders, due process

Document Type



In 1967 In re Gault established a right to counsel for juveniles accused of crime. But the protections of Gault took time to implement. In Washington State, they were codified in the Juvenile Justice Act of 1977. The 1990s saw a trend to "get tough" on juvenile crime, and hence more youth being tried in the adult system, with less acknowledgement of the developmental limitations of adolescents. Access to counsel varied state to state and within states. This article discusses challenges facing juvenile justice, nationally and in Washington State. Despite the challenges, there are good reasons to be optimistic: youth arrests are at an all-time low, fewer children are referred to juvenile court, and fewer children are being held at county- and state-run juvenile institutions.