Application: Research and Juvenile Competency and the Courts

Research can be applied in the court system in the area of juvenile competency. In fact, there is an extensive research project on issues of juvenile justice conducted by the MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Adolescent Development and Juvenile Justice. This multifaceted research project “seeks to expand the base of knowledge about the origins, development, prevention, and treatment of juvenile crime and delinquency.”* An additional goal of this research is to improve the current decision-making processes of the juvenile system and to set the stage for future reforms in juvenile justice policies and practices. One aspect of this major research undertaking is the MacArthur Juvenile Competence Study. Much information has come from this project and the empirical data is helping to reshape juvenile justice codes on juvenile competence to stand trial.

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*MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Adolescent Development and Juvenile Justice. (n.d.). MacArthur Foundation Reasearch Network on Adolescent Development and Juvenile Justice. Retrieved October 2, 2009, from http://www.adjj.org/content/index.php

In this week’s Application Assignment, you examine various aspects of this interesting area of research and how such research can be applied in a court setting.You also explore juvenile development in general and how developmental issues shape the legal criteria of competence to stand trial for juvenile defendants, both of which can have broad application in the courts.

To prepare for this assignment:

  • select a research article (attached) dealing with the assessment of juvenile competency to stand trial.
  • Review the article you selected and reflect on how the study was conducted as well as how it might assist a forensic psychology professional who is tasked with assessing a juvenile’s competency to stand trial.

The assignment (1/2-1 pages):

  • Explain the use of forensic psychology research in court settings.
  • Briefly summarize the research study you selected, including how juvenile competency to stand trial was assessed.
  • Explain how a forensic psychology professional might use this research study when assessing a juvenile’s competency to stand trial.
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