Lindsey, Benjamin Barr

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Lindsey, Benjamin Barr

Benjamin B. Lindsey. LIBRARY OF CONGRESS
Benjamin B. Lindsey.

Benjamin Barr Lindsey achieved prominence for his work in the juvenile court. Lindsey was born November 25, 1869, in Jackson, Tennessee. He received honorary degrees from the University of Denver and Notre Dame University and was admitted to the bar in 1894. In 1928 he was also admitted to the California bar.

In 1900 Lindsey became judge of the juvenile court of Denver, remaining on the bench until 1927. He is credited with the founding of the juvenile court system in the United States. Many of his ideas were adopted internationally.

As a recognized expert in the field of juvenile delinquency, Lindsey initiated many successful programs concerned with rehabilitation of minors. For example, he introduced the honor system, first used at the Industrial School in Golden, Colorado, which allowed boys the freedom to be unattended. Out of several hundred boys there, only five did not adhere to the code of honor. He was also instrumental in the enactment of legislation in Colorado that recognized the Negligence of parents as a contributory factor to the delinquency of juveniles.

In 1928 Lindsey moved to California where, in 1934, he sat on the bench of the superior court. In 1939 he became the first judge of the California Children's Court of Conciliation, a court he helped to create.

Lindsey was the author of many publications, including: Problems of the Children (1903); The Beast and the Jungle (1910); The Revolt of Modern Youth (1925); The Companionate Marriage (1927); and The Dangerous Life (a 1931 autobiography).

He died March 26, 1943, in Los Angeles, California.

Further readings

Harris, Leslie J., and Lee E. Teitelbaum. 2002. Children, Parents, and the Law. Gaithersburg, Md.: Aspen.

Lindsey, Benjamin, and Rube Borough. 1974. The Dangerous Life. New York: Arno.

Suransky Polakow, Valerie. 2000. The Public Assault on America's Children: Poverty, Violence, and Juvenile Injustice. New York: Teachers College.


Juvenile Law.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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While these notions initially emanated from somewhat Bohemian radicals, they were picked up by solid American authorities like Judge Ben Lindsey: "I believe that I have enough evidence to justify the conclusion not that this change in our sexual mores is going to take place at some time in the future, but that it has already taken place and is developing and crystallizing into a tacitly recognized and increasingly tolerated code."(49) New behaviors gave credence to these claims.