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More Than Meets The Eye: Rethinking Assessment, Competency and Sentencing for a Harsher Era of Juvenile Justice

NCJ Number
Marty Beyer Dr.; Thomas Grisso Dr.; Malcolm Young
Patricia Puritz, Alycia Capozello, Wendy Shang
Date Published
89 pages
This monograph instructs defense attorneys in strategies for representing juvenile offenders who are involved in transfer/waiver hearings, criminal trials, and sentencing hearings.
The first chapter advises attorneys to arrange a specialized evaluation of their juvenile clients, so their developmental levels will be documented. Such evaluations should indicate how the juvenile's immature thought process was linked to the offense. The evaluator should indicate what areas of developmental growth have yet to be realized, such as anticipating consequences, making choices, and applying moral values. Further, the evaluation should describe the services that would contribute to the positive developmental process and the adverse conditions, notably an adult sentence, that would impede positive development. A checklist is provided for attorneys to use in requesting specialized evaluations for juveniles. The second chapter addresses competency issues for juveniles in the context of the adult court. Immaturity and a lack of understanding of how his/her decisions affect his/her future affect an adolescent's ability to assist in his/her defense. Attorneys must make every effort to prevent the criminal court from viewing and processing an incompetent, immature juvenile as it would an adult. The documentation of such incompetence should lead to the case being handled in juvenile court rather than criminal court. Incarcerating a juvenile until competence is achieved will not produce the intended legal competence. The third chapter describes individual sentencing plans for juveniles prepared by social workers and other nonlawyers. These sentencing plans, which are developed by experts to combine needed treatment strategies with accountability for the harms caused by the offense, should be used to counter the trend toward strictly punitive sentences that ignore developmental and treatment needs of the juvenile offender. 77 notes and appended competency screening test and 12 steps to effective defense sentencing advocacy