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NCJ Number: 201777 Find in a Library
Title: Juvenile Competence: Can Immaturity Alone Make an Adolescent Incompetent to Stand Trial?
Journal: Juvenile Justice Update  Volume:9  Issue:4  Dated:August/September 2003  Pages:1-2,12,16
Author(s): Thomas Grisso Ph.D.; Laurence Steinberg Ph.D.
Date Published: August 2003
Page Count: 7
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article explores the issue of competency to stand trial as it relates to adolescents and reports on a study of competency among juvenile offenders.
Abstract: The juvenile justice system was founded on the notion that juvenile offenders are different from adult offenders and should be treated differently under the law. However, in the past decade there has been a shift in the way the system views, and deals with, juvenile offenders. As more violent crimes are committed by young people, the justice system has started to deal with young offenders as if they are adults. The authors posit that adolescents, although capable of committing adult crimes, may not have the maturity necessary to competently stand trial and assist in their own defenses. They report on a study of 1,400 juvenile offenders, half of whom were in jail or juvenile detention at the time of the study. Participants in Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Virginia, and Florida were presented with vignettes and the MacArthur Competence Assessment Tool--Criminal Adjudication to ascertain developmental maturity and the capacities related to competence. Results of the study indicated that a large number of juvenile offenders age 15 and younger probably were not competent to stand trial based on their level of maturity and understanding of the justice process. Most of the juvenile offenders were not able to put facts together and draw logical conclusions. The results have far reaching implications for the justice system in terms of how juveniles are handled at every stage of the process, from interactions with police to interactions with judges.
Main Term(s): Competency to stand trial
Index Term(s): Juvenile justice reform; Juvenile justice standards
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