In the original story both Sally and her aunt were prostitutes, and Sally hanged herself after being ravaged by the brakeman, who was thrown to his death by the boys after trying him in a kangaroo court.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
A different ending for the film was originally shot. In this ending, the judge does not relent: Sally and Tommy are sent to juvenile hall, while Eddie is sent to juvenile prison. Wellman preferred this ending as a more realistic one, but the studio insisted on a more uplifting alternative, in which the judge changes his mind and gives all three youths a second chance - several movie reviewers at the time described the happy ending as a facile cop-out.
Alan Hale Jr. (later known as The Skipper on Gilligan's Island (1964)) was originally cast in the film, but in the final version he appears only as the child whose photograph the judge looks at fondly after pardoning the three youths.