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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: 26 September 2021

The Legacy of Benny Moreno and Edward Leiva

The Legacy of Benny Moreno and Edward Leiva

“Defective Delinquents” or Tragic Heroes?

(p.182) Chapter 6 The Legacy of Benny Moreno and Edward Leiva
States of Delinquency

Miroslava Chávez-García

University of California Press

This chapter uses the lives and deaths of Benny Moreno and Edward Leiva, Mexican American boys who committed suicide in the isolation unit of the Lost Privilege Cottage in 1939 and 1940, respectively, to explore the decline of Whittier State School. It explores how political rivalries, severe cutbacks in state support, gross neglect, incompetent leadership, and an informal code of silence resulted in the school's deplorable conditions—including widespread physical and sexual abuse—that contributed to the deaths of the two boys. The boys' deaths were not in vain, however. Rather, they triggered a series of lengthy and controversial investigations that blew the lid off the reformatory and the larger Department of Institutions (responsible for the reformatories' administration) resulting in the reorganization of juvenile corrections and establishment of the Youth Authority in 1941.

Keywords:   Whittier State School, Benny Moreno, Edward Leiva, reformatory, Department of Institutions, juvenile corrections, Youth Authority, decline of Whittier State School, suicide

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