Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Some youth too immature to stand trial, experts say

Date:
October 12, 2011
Source:
University of Tennessee at Knoxville
Summary:
Researchers have found that unlike adults, most children and adolescents who are found incompetent to stand trial are not psychotic; rather, they have cognitive impairments. And, they are often too immature to understand the magnitude of the situation.

Research from Aaron Kivisto, clinical psychology program graduate at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and current post-doctoral fellow at Massachusetts General Hospital; Todd Moore, assistant professor of psychology at UT; and Bruce Seidner, clinical assistant professor in the psychology clinic at UT, found that unlike adults, most children and adolescents who are found incompetent to stand trial are not psychotic; rather, they have cognitive impairments. And, they are often too immature to understand the magnitude of the situation.

In a study recently published in the Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and Law, Kivisto, Moore and Seidner found that a major contributor to maturity is "future orientation," or the ability of young people to take long-range consequences into account when making decisions. The authors theorize one reason young people are ill-equipped to be defendants in court is because they are present-focused and lack a more mature perspective on the future.

"When we're teenagers, we're focused on short-term consequences," said Kivisto. "Teens think about what might happen later today if they do something. Because courts can impose consequences that can affect someone's life for years, it appears that adolescents approach these longer-term and very serious implications blindly."

Testing the influence of future orientation on competency to stand trial, the researchers found that the well-established relationship between age and competency is partly explained by a child's degree of future orientation.

The researchers also found that competency is particularly "fragile" in immature children. In other words, children require less of a deficiency in their cognitive ability to have an impact on their competency in the courtroom than their adult, more mature peers.

For adolescents, the deficits can be much more subtle and easily undetected. The researchers hope their findings have an impact in the courtroom.

"Given the long-lasting consequences faced by adolescents in the courtroom, these findings suggest that forensic evaluators should give increased attention to the often neglected role of normal immaturity on adolescents' competence to stand trial and to appreciate these unique aspects of young defendants," said Kivisto.

Indeed, developmental maturity is a factor gaining greater attention from courts and legislatures. States such as California already require juvenile competency evaluators to assess developmental maturity.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Tennessee at Knoxville. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Kivisto, Aaron J., Moore, Todd M., Fite, Paula A., Seidner, Bruce G. Future Orientation and Competence to Stand Trial: The Fragility of Competence. J Am Acad Psychiatry Law, 2011 39: 316-326 [link]

Cite This Page:

University of Tennessee at Knoxville. "Some youth too immature to stand trial, experts say." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 October 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111011112459.htm>.
University of Tennessee at Knoxville. (2011, October 12). Some youth too immature to stand trial, experts say. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111011112459.htm
University of Tennessee at Knoxville. "Some youth too immature to stand trial, experts say." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111011112459.htm (accessed September 21, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) The study found elderly people are much more likely to become susceptible to infection than younger adults going though a similar situation. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Food Addiction Might Be Caused By PTSD

Food Addiction Might Be Caused By PTSD

Newsy (Sep. 18, 2014) New research shows that women who suffer from PTSD are three times more likely to develop a food addiction. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Corporal Punishment on Decline, Debate Renews

Corporal Punishment on Decline, Debate Renews

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) Corporal punishment in the United States is on the decline, but there is renewed debate over its use after Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson was charged with child abuse. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
FDA Eyes Skin Shocks Used at Mass. School

FDA Eyes Skin Shocks Used at Mass. School

AP (Sep. 15, 2014) The FDA is considering whether to ban devices used by the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center in Canton, Massachusetts, the only place in the country known to use electrical skin shocks as aversive conditioning for aggressive patients. (Sept. 15) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins