PSY 375 – JUVENILE COMPETENCY, Forensic Psychology

Subject: General Questions    / General General Questions


PSY375: Forensic Psychology

250 words

Until about 1900, in the U.S., juveniles—those under 18 years of age—were treated the same as adults in the criminal justice system and were remanded to adult prisons. Reform and psychosociological research in the beginning of the twentieth century provided information that caused this to change. However, young offenders were still not granted the same rights as adults throughout the process. That also changed in the second half of the twentieth century.

The U.S. Supreme Court case of In re Gault (1967) changed the way juveniles were viewed in court proceedings. While not specifically addressing a juvenile defendant’s competency to stand trial, it stated that juvenile courts had to provide the same due process available to adults. Research from the 1990s indicates that juveniles as young as 14 years of age are “. . . no less capable than ‘average’ adults in their ability to understand matters pertaining to trials” (Fulero & Wrightsman, 2009, p. 127).

Based on the Gault case, respond to the following:

• Do you think 14 years is an appropriate benchmark age?
• Research the issue and provide examples of studies (not from your textbook) which agree or disagree with this generalization about the age of juvenile competency. Summarize the findings and conclusions of the researchers, making sure to cite and reference your sources.