Juvenile Protective Association, 1916
An offshoot of the campaign that established America's first
in Chicago, this women-led reform organization emerged in 1909 to stem the tide of 10,000 young offenders who passed annually through the city's court system. Headquartered at
the organization launched high-profile investigations of the dance halls and cheap theaters where working-class youths nightly congregated and, according to JPA literature, took their first innocent steps toward careers of immorality and crime. JPA president Louise de Koven Bowen persuaded municipal judges to create specialized courts for delinquent husbands and young male offenders, and JPA investigators filed thousands of criminal complaints during the 1910s against parents for contributing to the dependency or delinquency of children. A testament to the authority of middle-class women in Progressive-era moral reform—and a paragon of the era's intense interest in the “root causes” of crime—the JPA saw its political capital plummet during
and never regained its central place in criminal justice reform. By the twenties, the leading edge of child protection had shifted from the criminal courts to welfare agencies, and the JPA moved with it. Now located on the North Side (but still on Halsted Street), the JPA continues to serve as a vital center of
and advocacy on behalf of child and family welfare in Chicago.
The Spirit of Youth and the City Streets.
Bowen, Louise de Koven.
Safeguards for City Youth: At Work and at Play.
City of Courts: Socializing Justice in Progressive Era Chicago.