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States of DelinquencyRace and Science in the Making of California's Juvenile Justice System$
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Miroslava Chavez-Garcia

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780520271715

Published to California Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520271715.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CALIFORNIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.california.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of California Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CALSO for personal use.date: 19 September 2021

Fred C. Nelles

Fred C. Nelles

Innovative Reformer, Conservative Eugenicist

(p.48) Chapter 2 Fred C. Nelles
States of Delinquency

Miroslava Chávez-García

University of California Press

This chapter uses the life story and legacy of Fred C. Nelles, Superintendent of Whittier State School from 1912 to his death from pneumonia in 1927, to examine how reform school administrators in California and across the country used science and scientific research to transform archaic, dysfunctional reformatories into premiere modern institutions of juvenile reform and citizenship building. Whittier led the state and arguably the nation in research into juvenile delinquency. Nelles's success with rebuilding and implementing new policies and practices took a toll, however, on the most vulnerable children and youths at Whittier State School—primarily the impoverished, poorly educated racial and ethnic minorities. Under his administration, Mexicans, Mexican Americans, and African Americans in particular were disproportionately identified as mentally defective and feebleminded youth who needed permanent care and ideally sterilization.

Keywords:   Fred C. Nelles, Whittier State School, reform school, juvenile reform, citizenship building, eugenics, juvenile delinquency, scientific research

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