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Youth on Trial

A Developmental Perspective on Juvenile Justice

It is often said that a teen "old enough to do the crime is old enough to do the time," but are teens really mature and capable enough to participate fully and fairly in adult criminal court? In this book—the fruit of the MacArthur Foundation Network on Adolescent Development and Juvenile Justice—a wide range of leaders in developmental psychology and law combine their expertise to investigate the current limitations of our youth policy. The first part of the book establishes a developmental perspective on juvenile justice; the second and third parts then apply this perspective to issues of adolescents’ capacities as trial defendants and questions of legal culpability. Underlying the entire work is the assumption that an enlightened juvenile justice system cannot ignore the developmental psychological realities of adolescence.

Not only a state-of-the-art assessment of the conceptual and empirical issues in the forensic assessment of youth, Youth on Trial is also a call to reintroduce sound, humane public policy into our justice system..

Contributors: Richard Barnum, Richard J. Bonnie, Emily Buss, Elizabeth Cauffman, Gary L. Crippen, Jeffrey Fagan, Barry C. Feld, Sandra Graham, Thomas Grisso, Colleen Halliday, Alan E. Kazdin, N. Dickon Reppucci, Robert G. Schwartz, Elizabeth Scott, Laurence Steinberg, Ann Tobey, Jennifer L. Woolard, Franklin E. Zimring


"This major contribution to the field of juvenile justice opens a door that has needed opening. . . . Thanks to Grisso, Schwartz, and their colleagues and the MacArthur Network, perhaps there ultimately will be a kinder, gentler nation, at least as far as juvenile offenders are concerned."

Alan M. Goldstein | Journal of Psychiatry and Law

"It is refreshing to read a publication that is truly original, innovative, and challenging, addressing as it does all aspects and all stages of the impact of the legal process on adolescents."

Susan Bailey | Journal of Child Psychology & Psychiatry

“After meticulously presenting competency and development issues faced by youth . . . the book moves to a solution-focused orientation that will be appreciated by academicians and practitioners. Readers interested in mental health issues of youths are provided a litany of literature, data, research, and tools that offer a better understanding and approach to a fairer justice process for juveniles. The book refreshingly becomes a ‘how to’ manual for lawyers, judges, parents, and even youth interested in applying the developmental perspective. . . . A must-read for any student of juvenile justice, as it is a prelude to the inclusion of developmental psychology into the juvenile justice field."

Everette B. Penn | Criminal Justice Review

Table of Contents


Part I:A Developmental Perspective on Juvenile Justice
1Developmental Psychology Goes to Court
2Adolescent Development, Mental Disorders, and Decision making of Delinquent Youths

Part II:Adolescents’ Capacities as Trial Defendants
3Adjudicative Competence and Youthful Offenders
4Juveniles’ Waiver of Legal Rights:Confessions, Miranda, and the Right to Counsel
5What We Know about Youths’ Capacities as Trial Defendants
6Researching Juveniles’ Capacities as Defendants
7Clinical and Forensic Evaluation of Competence to Stand Trial in Juvenile Defendants
8Youths’ Trial Participation as Seen by Youths and Their Attorneys: An Exploration of Competence-Based Issues
9The Role of Lawyers in Promoting Juveniles’ Competence as Defendants

Part III:Culpability and Youths’ Capacities
10Penal Proportionality for the Young Offender:Notes on Immaturity, Capacity, and Diminished Responsibility
11Criminal Responsibility in Adolescence: Lessons from Developmental Psychology
12Researching Adolescents’ Judgment and Culpability
13The Social Cognitive(Attributional) Perspective on Culpability in Adolescent Offenders
14Contexts of Choice by Adolescents in Criminal Events
15Can the Courts Fairly Account for the Diminished Competence and Culpability of Juveniles? A Judge’s Perspective

Subject Index
Author Index


Society for Research on Adolescence: Society for Research on Adolescence Social Policy Award

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