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Remembering Lloyd Ohlin

The death of Lloyd Ohlin in December 2008 was a great loss to the juvenile justice reform world because he was a scholar and a reformer.  A University of Chicago trained sociologists, Professor Ohlin was best known for his seminal work Delinquency and Opportunity, which he co-authored with Richard Cloward another prominent sociologist.   Published in 1960, the book is considered a classic because it was a thorough examination of the influence of social conditions such as poverty on delinquency.  While this was certainly a sizeable contribution to the study of delinquency, Dr. Ohlin's greatest contribution to the juvenile justice field is largely overlooked.

In 1970, when he was director of  Harvard University's Center on Criminal Justice, Dr. Ohlin chronicled the closing of the Massachusetts training schools and the efforts of the state's visionary juvenile justice leader, Dr. Jerome Miller to create a more humane system.  Miller's reforms are generally regarded as the most revolutionary and meaningful in American juvenile justice history.

Leading a team of impressive scholars, that included Barry Feld, Craig McEwen, Alden Miller, and Robert Coates, Ohlin produced a five book series that detailed the reform process and illuminated a path to a new era of juvenile justice policy (see list below).   This series still represents some of the best research ever done in the field.  As other states are now beginning to dismantle 19th century training schools, the lessons chronicled by Dr. Ohlin 30 years ago are finally beginning to resonate.

  • The Series on Massachusetts Youth Correction Reforms
  • Reforming Juvenile Corrections: The Massachusetts Experience by Lloyd Ohlin, Robert Coates and Alden Miller
  • A Theory of Social Reform: Correctional Change Processes in Two States by Lloyd Ohlin, Robert Coates and Alden Miller
  • Diversity in a Youth Correctional System: Handlin Delinquents in Massachusetts Lloyd Ohlin, Robert Coates and Alden Miller
  • Designing Correctional Organizations for Youths: Dilemmas of Sub cultural Development by Craig McEwen
  • Neutralizing Inmate Violence: Juvenile Offenders in Institutions by Barry C. Feld

Keywords: Daniel Macallair, Massachusetts

Posted in Blog, Juvenile Justice

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