A report issued this month by the National Research Council’s Committee on Assessing Juvenile Justice Reform, Reforming Juvenile Justice: A Developmental Approach, suggests the nation’s juvenile justice system must be overhauled to reflect developing knowledge about adolescent development.
This adolescent brain development has played a prominent role in the U.S. Supreme Court decisions in Roper v. Simmons, 125 S, Ct, 1183 (2005) (outlawing the death penalty for juveniles); Graham v. Florida, 130 S. Ct. 2011 (2010) (outlawing juvenile life in prison for non-homicide offenses); and most recently in Miller v. Alabama, 132 S. Ct. 2455 (2012) (banning mandatory life in prison for juveniles).
According to The Crime Report, the report argues that the juvenile justice system would better prevent recidivism and ensure fair treatment for adolescent offenders if it was built to promote healthy psychological development and the involvement of parental figures.
Juvenile justice programs should take differences between adolescents and adults into account, the report argues, noting that adolescents lack emotional maturity, are sensitive to peer pressure and often display a poor grasp of potential consequences.
Recommendations in the nearly 400-page report include using restitution and community service to hold offenders accountable, limiting instances of juvenile confinement, engaging offenders’ families and avoiding justice measures that might hamper successful transitions to adult life.
For full report