A Netflix Drama Shines a Light on the Contradictions of ‘Juvenile Justice’

(Originally published by The Washington Post on February 16, 2023)

Doris Morgan Rueda, Fellow, Center for Law and History

The system has long been charged with rehabilitating youth offenders — while also facing demands for harsh punishments and oversight

“I have a hatred for young offenders.”

So begins our introduction to Netflix’s wildly popular “Juvenile Justice” and its lead character, a newly appointed juvenile court judge, Sim Eun-seok. Eun-seok’s self-declared hatred of juvenile offenders is contrasted with her co-worker, juvenile court judge Cha Tae-ju, himself a reformed juvenile offender, who joined the court as an impassioned advocate for youths.

Together the judges navigate the complicated cases before them, including homicide, domestic abuse and academic cheating scandals, in addition to the frustrations of bureaucracy and judicial politics.

(Continue reading the opinion essay on The Washington Post’s page here.)