BEST VERDICT (1999)
Conventional wisdom has long dictated that juvenile court proceedings should be conducted behind closed doors in order to protect the minors involved. While this is an admirable gesture, many children's advocates have maintained that closing the system robs it of its accountability and also ends up actually discouraging people from coming forward on behalf of abused children. Last June juvenile courts in 12 Minnesota counties (including Hennepin and Ramsey) opened their doors to the public in a three-year experiment mandated by the state Legislature. Minors' names are withheld during the proceedings, but the details of their plights--and the often tortured guts of the child-protection system itself--are given a public airing.