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NCJ Number: 204814 Find in a Library
Title: Assessment of Mental Health Issues With Young Offenders
Author(s): Chris Lennings
Date Published: December 2003
Page Count: 13
Document: PDF
Type: Issue Overview
Format: Document
Language: English
Country: Australia
Annotation: This paper discusses the context faced by the psychologist in preparing mental health assessments for young offenders charged with offenses heard in Australian magistrates courts.
Abstract: On one hand, the rehabilitative ideal suggests that psychological factors should be taken into account when considering the court's disposition of the case. On the other hand, the court has multiple demands in resolving cases, including protection of the community, ensuring compliance with community standards for "just desserts," and providing a deterrent example to others. As expert witnesses, psychologists can at times assist the court in determining the extent to which mitigation, leniency, and even challenges to mens rea are appropriate. This paper presents the author's analysis of 110 cases that have been referred to him for psychological assessment pending sentencing in a court. The variables measured in these assessments were intelligence, externalizing disorders, attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder, depression, anxiety/trauma disorders, psychosis, history of head injury, substance abuse, child abuse, and mental health assessment. More than half of the youth had serious substance abuse problems, and more than half reported moderate to severe histories of child abuse. Internalizing disorders and cognitive deficits were common; however, despite a clinical assessment that identified high levels of psychopathology, these findings were typically either disregarded or considered irrelevant to the dispositional process. 19 references
Main Term(s): Juvenile mental health services
Index Term(s): Australia; Expert witnesses; Forensic psychology; Juvenile processing; Psychological causes of delinquency; Psychological evaluation; Psychologists role in criminal justice
Note: Paper presented at the "Juvenile Justice: From Lessons of the Past to a Road for the Future Conference" convened by the Australian Institute of Criminology, December 1-2, 2003. Downloaded March 25, 2004.
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