Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Committee Member

David Tanenhaus

Second Committee Member

Todd Robinson

Third Committee Member

Maria Casas

Fourth Committee Member

Deidre Clemente

Fifth Committee Member

Addie Rolnick

Number of Pages



This dissertation is the first comprehensive history of juvenile justice in the U.S-Mexico borderlands from 1900 to 1975. The juvenile justice historical literature has prioritized a “black” and “white” understanding of racial disparities in treatment and responses to delinquency. Latinx youth, who would have been categorized as “white” in segregated detention centers, are often erased from this history or are presumed to have had a similar experience to African American youth. My work disrupts this narrative and resituates Latinx youth as a significant population in juvenile justice from the beginning and as a population that experienced racialized treatment and policing from the inception of juvenile justice. Furthermore, this work explains the historical development of a juvenile justice system that did not necessarily follow the pattern of the east coast juvenile courts, rather rurality and informality heavily shaped the administration and policies of the early juvenile courts in the borderlands. This project builds upon several decades of historiographical research from juvenile justice scholars, borderlands scholars, and carceral studies scholars. Within the study of juvenile justice, the term has expanded to include not only juvenile courts, juvenile detention, and juvenile probation, but also schools, social work, and other state institutions that participate in the surveilling of youth and their families. Additionally, this project centers the U.S-Mexico borderlands as a transnational region. Prior works conceptualized state institutions as dependent upon on a static understanding of the border. However, in a region that has had a looser and more porous lived experience with the border, the subject of surveilling and policing youth takes on a dynamic shift that can reveal the ways in which state power asserts itself in transnational areas. By investigating the institutional, intellectual, and legal history of juvenile justice and juvenile policing in these borderlands, my dissertation analyzes the construction of state systems that targeted Latinx and other youth from the turn of the twentieth century to the 1967 landmark Supreme Court decision, In re Gault.


Borderlands; Juvenile Delinquency; Juvenile Justice; Latinx; Youth


History | Law

File Format


File Size

1455 KB

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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