Competency Rates for Offending Juveniles And Mental Health Resources in Washington State
Dr. Holly Cross (nee Buckman)
Arts and Sciences
Psychology, Criminology, Forensic Psychology, Law, Legal Systems, Juveniles, Justice
Competency is a legal state, suggesting the ability to aid and contribute to one’s own defense, and a crucial aspect of due process rights in the United States. Juvenile offenders may be more likely to be referred for competency evaluations due to the subjective interpretation of the Dusky standard and non-impartial guidelines in the measurement of adolescent competency to stand trial. Whereas adult defendants are declared incompetent due to severe mental illness or intellectual disabilities, juvenile defendents are declared incompetent based on the discretion of the judge or other legal decision-makers. This paper will explore and describe the factors that influence discretion in determining juvenile competency, and how those elements differ from components determining adult competency. This project will provide a critical review of juvenile competency case law to examine whether statutory direction of competency evaluations of juveniles reflects psychological research on adolescent development and mental illness. Comparisons will also be made with adult competency statutes and research to identify potential differences in competency referral rates. Additionally, it will investigate whether social factors, like homelessness, impact judge’s, or other legal decision-maker’s, discretion in determining legal competence or referrals for competency evaluations by reviewing publicly available data and prior research. Potential implications for legislative policy or court procedures will be discussed in relation to these findings.
Luciano, Alessandra; Herbert, Alexandra; DeWitt, Rachel; Siegfried, Macy; and Cross, Dr. Holly, "Competency Rates for Offending Juveniles And Mental Health Resources in Washington State" (2021). Symposium on Undergraduate Research and Creative Expression (SOURCE). 993.