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Conceptualizing Legal Childhood In The Twenty-First Century, Elizabeth S. Scott, Clare Huntington Jan 2019

Conceptualizing Legal Childhood In The Twenty-First Century, Elizabeth S. Scott, Clare Huntington

Faculty Scholarship

The law governing children is complex, sometimes appearing almost incoherent. The relatively simple framework established in the Progressive era, in which parents had primary authority over children, subject to limited state oversight, has broken down over the past few decades. Lawmakers started granting children some adult rights and privileges, raising questions about their traditional status as vulnerable, dependent, and legally incompetent beings. As children emerged as legal persons, children’s rights advocates challenged the rationale for parental authority, contending that robust parental rights often harm children. And a wave of punitive reforms in response to juvenile crime in the 1990s ...


Young Adulthood As A Transitional Legal Category: Science, Social Change And Justice Policy, Elizabeth S. Scott, Richard J. Bonnie, Laurence Steinberg Jan 2018

Young Adulthood As A Transitional Legal Category: Science, Social Change And Justice Policy, Elizabeth S. Scott, Richard J. Bonnie, Laurence Steinberg

Faculty Scholarship

In the past decade, developmental brain research has had an important influence on juvenile crime regulation. More recently, advocates and some policy makers have argued that the developmental research should shape the law’s response to young adult offenders. Developmental scientists have found that biological and psychological development continues into the early 20, and that 18 to 21 year old adults are more like younger adolescents than older adults in their impulsivity under some conditions. Further, like teenagers, young adults engage in risky behavior, such as drinking, smoking, unsafe sex, using drugs, and offending, to a greater extent than older ...


Brain Development, Social Context And Justice Policy, Elizabeth S. Scott, Natasha Duell, Laurence Steinberg Jan 2018

Brain Development, Social Context And Justice Policy, Elizabeth S. Scott, Natasha Duell, Laurence Steinberg

Faculty Scholarship

Justice policy reform in the past decade has been driven by research evidence indicating that brain development is ongoing through adolescence, and that neurological and psychological immaturity likely contributes in important ways to teenagers’ involvement in crime. But despite the power of this trend, skeptics point out that many (perhaps most) adolescents do not engage in serious criminal activity; on this basis, critics argue that normative biological and psychological factors associated with adolescence are unlikely to play the important role in juvenile offending that is posited by supporters of the reform trend. This Article explains that features associated with biological ...


How Should Justice Policy Treat Young Offenders?, Bj Casey, Richard J. Bonnie, Andre Davis, David L. Faigman, Morris B. Hoffman, Owen D. Jones, Read Montague, Stephen J. Morse, Marcus E. Raichle, Jennifer E. Richeson, Elizabeth S. Scott, Laurence Steinberg, Kim Taylor-Thompson, Anthony Wagner Jan 2017

How Should Justice Policy Treat Young Offenders?, Bj Casey, Richard J. Bonnie, Andre Davis, David L. Faigman, Morris B. Hoffman, Owen D. Jones, Read Montague, Stephen J. Morse, Marcus E. Raichle, Jennifer E. Richeson, Elizabeth S. Scott, Laurence Steinberg, Kim Taylor-Thompson, Anthony Wagner

Faculty Scholarship

The justice system in the United States has long recognized that juvenile offenders are not the same as adults, and has tried to incorporate those differences into law and policy. But only in recent decades have behavioral scientists and neuroscientists, along with policymakers, looked rigorously at developmental differences, seeking answers to two overarching questions: Are young offenders, purely by virtue of their immaturity, different from older individuals who commit crimes? And, if they are, how should justice policy take this into account?

A growing body of research on adolescent development now confirms that teenagers are indeed inherently different from adults ...


Children's Health In A Legal Framework, Elizabeth S. Scott, Clare Huntington Jan 2014

Children's Health In A Legal Framework, Elizabeth S. Scott, Clare Huntington

Faculty Scholarship

The interdisciplinary periodical Future of Children has dedicated an issue to children’s health policy. This contribution to the issue maps the legal landscape influencing policy choices. The authors demonstrate that in the U.S. legal system, parents have robust rights, grounded in the Constitution, to make decisions concerning their children’s health and medical treatment. Following from its commitment to parental rights, the system typically assumes the interests of parents and children are aligned, even when that assumption seems questionable. Thus, for example, parents who would limit their children’s access to health care on the basis of the ...


Judicial Leadership In Family Court: A Cautionary Tale, Jane M. Spinak Jan 2014

Judicial Leadership In Family Court: A Cautionary Tale, Jane M. Spinak

Faculty Scholarship

This article is based on the Charles Miller Endowed Lecture given at the University of Tennessee College of Law in April 2014 and forms the core of a chapter about judicial leadership in the family court in a planned book about the court. A central element of the historical juvenile court and the ensuing family courts has been the role of the judge as a judicial leader, shouldering responsibilities, including therapeutic ones, far beyond those of the traditional legal decision-maker. These multiple roles – as investigator, collaborator, convener, advocate, mediator, and problem-solver – have given the family court judge tremendous power to ...


Justice Policy Reform For High-Risk Juveniles: Using Science To Achieve Large-Scale Crime Reduction, Jennifer L. Skeem, Elizabeth S. Scott, Edward Mulvey Jan 2014

Justice Policy Reform For High-Risk Juveniles: Using Science To Achieve Large-Scale Crime Reduction, Jennifer L. Skeem, Elizabeth S. Scott, Edward Mulvey

Faculty Scholarship

After a distinctly punitive era, a period of remarkable reform in juvenile crime regulation has begun. Practical urgency has fueled interest in both crime reduction and research on the prediction and malleability of criminal behavior. In this rapidly changing context, high-risk youth – the small proportion of the population where crime is concentrated – present a conundrum. Research indicates that these are precisely the individuals to intensively treat to maximize crime reduction, but there are both real and imagined barriers to doing so. Institutional placement or criminal court processing can exclude these youths from interventions that would better protect public safety. In ...


Miller V. Alabama And The (Past And) Future Of Juvenile Justice Policy, Elizabeth S. Scott Jan 2013

Miller V. Alabama And The (Past And) Future Of Juvenile Justice Policy, Elizabeth S. Scott

Faculty Scholarship

This essay was the keynote address for a symposium on Miller v Alabama, the 2012 Supreme Court opinion holding unconstitutional under the Eighth Amendment a statute imposing a mandatory sentence of life without parole for juveniles convicted of homicide. The essay argues that Miller embodies a way of thinking about juvenile crime that has taken hold in the early 21st century – an approach that emphasizes the importance for legal policy of developmental differences between juveniles and adults. This emerging trend contrasts sharply with the regulatory approach of the 1990s when moral panics over juvenile crime fueled punitive law reforms that ...


"Children Are Different": Constitutional Values And Justice Policy, Elizabeth S. Scott Jan 2012

"Children Are Different": Constitutional Values And Justice Policy, Elizabeth S. Scott

Faculty Scholarship

This essay explores the importance of Miller and two earlier Supreme Court opinions rejecting harsh sentences for juveniles for Eighth Amendment jurisprudence and for juvenile crime regulation. It argues that the Court has broken new ground with these opinions in defining juveniles as a category of offenders who are subject to special Eighth Amendment protections. In Miller and in Graham v. Florida (2010) particularly, the Court has applied to juveniles’ non-capital sentences the rigorous proportionality review that, for adults, has been reserved for death sentences. The essay then turns to the implications of the opinions for juvenile crime policy, arguing ...


Moral Disengagement Among Serious Juvenile Offenders: A Longitudinal Study Of The Relations Between Morally Disengaged Attitudes And Offending, Jeffrey Fagan, Elizabeth P. Shulman, Elizabeth Cauffman, Alex R. Piquero Jan 2011

Moral Disengagement Among Serious Juvenile Offenders: A Longitudinal Study Of The Relations Between Morally Disengaged Attitudes And Offending, Jeffrey Fagan, Elizabeth P. Shulman, Elizabeth Cauffman, Alex R. Piquero

Faculty Scholarship

The present study investigates the relation between moral disengagement – one’s willingness to conditionally endorse transgressive behavior – and ongoing offending in a sample of adolescent male felony offenders (N=1,169). In addition, the study attempts to rule out callous-unemotional traits as a third variable responsible for observed associations between moral disengagement and offending. A bivariate latent change score analysis suggests that reduction in moral disengagement helps to speed decline in self-reported antisocial behavior, even after adjusting for the potential confound of callous-unemotional traits. Declines in moral disengagement are also associated with declining likelihood of offending, based on official records ...


Juvenile Incarceration And The Pains Of Imprisonment, Jeffrey Fagan, Aaron Kupchik Jan 2011

Juvenile Incarceration And The Pains Of Imprisonment, Jeffrey Fagan, Aaron Kupchik

Faculty Scholarship

The nationwide trend to criminalize juvenile delinquency in the 1980s and 1990s resulted in the placement of large numbers of adolescent criminal offenders in adult correctional facilities. Prior research has assessed the consequences of this practice through comparisons of youth in juvenile corrections with youths placed in adult prisons and jails. These studies minimized the pains of imprisonment for youth who continue to be placed in juvenile correctional facilities by comparing their conditions to the more violent and toxic conditions of confinement in adult institutions. In this article, we more carefully assess the conditions of confinement within a broader range ...


The Contradictions Of Juvenile Crime & Punishment, Jeffrey Fagan Jan 2010

The Contradictions Of Juvenile Crime & Punishment, Jeffrey Fagan

Faculty Scholarship

This essay explores the contradictions and puzzles of modern juvenile justice, and illustrates the enduring power of the child-saving philosophy of the juvenile court in an era of punitiveness toward offenders both young and old. The exponential growth in incarceration in the U.S. since the 1970s has been more restrained for juveniles than adults, even in the face of a youth violence epidemic that lasted for nearly a decade. Rhetoric has grown harsher in the wake of moral panics about youth crime, juvenile codes now express the language of retribution and incapacitation, yet the growth in incarceration of juveniles ...


Social Welfare And Fairness In Juvenile Crime Regulation, Elizabeth S. Scott, Laurence Steinberg Jan 2010

Social Welfare And Fairness In Juvenile Crime Regulation, Elizabeth S. Scott, Laurence Steinberg

Faculty Scholarship

This Article argues that a developmental model of juvenile crime regulation grounded in scientific knowledge about adolescence is both more likely to promote social welfare and is fairer to young offenders than a regime that fails to attend to developmental research. We focus on the less familiar social welfare argument for a separate and more lenient juvenile justice system, and demonstrate that the punitive law reforms of the 1990s have failed to minimize the social cost of juvenile crime. The expanded use of adult incarceration likely contributed to the declining juvenile crime rates since the mid-1990s, but the financial costs ...


Juvenile Crime And Criminal Justice: Resolving Border Disputes, Jeffrey Fagan Jan 2008

Juvenile Crime And Criminal Justice: Resolving Border Disputes, Jeffrey Fagan

Faculty Scholarship

Rising juvenile crime rates over three decades spurred legal mobilizations within many state legislatures to vastly expand the transfer of adolescent criminal offenders under the age of eighteen to the jurisdiction of the criminal court. The proliferation of transfer regimes over the past several decades calls into question the very rationale for a juvenile court. Both the boundaries for transfer and mechanisms to effect it were redesigned. This redrawing of the boundary between the juvenile and adult justice systems resulted in a wholesale movement of large numbers of juveniles into the adult system, while stripping juvenile court judges of the ...


Rethinking Juvenile Justice, Elizabeth S. Scott, Laurence Steinberg Jan 2008

Rethinking Juvenile Justice, Elizabeth S. Scott, Laurence Steinberg

Faculty Scholarship

Legal reforms over the past generation have transformed juvenile crime regulation from a system that viewed most youth crime as the product of immaturity into one that is ready to hold many youths to the standard of accountability imposed on adults. Supporters of these reforms argue that they are simply a response to the inability of the traditional juvenile court to deal adequately with violent youth crime, but the legal changes that have transformed the system have often been undertaken in an atmosphere of moral panic, with little deliberation about consequences and costs.

In this book we argue that a ...


Adolescence And The Regulation Of Youth Crime, Elizabeth S. Scott Jan 2007

Adolescence And The Regulation Of Youth Crime, Elizabeth S. Scott

Faculty Scholarship

Recently, American juvenile justice policy has undergone dramatic changes. In less than a generation, a justice system that viewed most lawbreakers as youngsters whose crimes were the product of immaturity has been transformed into one that often holds young offenders to the same standard of criminal accountability it imposes on adults – and generally pays little attention to differences between adolescents and adults. This essay, based on a forthcoming book by the author and developmental psychologist Laurence Steinberg, argues that scientific knowledge about adolescence and about the role of criminal activity during this developmental period is critically important as a foundation ...


Building Criminal Capital Behind Bars: Peer Effects In Juvenile Corrections, Patrick J. Bayer, Randi Hjalmarsson, David Pozen Jan 2007

Building Criminal Capital Behind Bars: Peer Effects In Juvenile Corrections, Patrick J. Bayer, Randi Hjalmarsson, David Pozen

Faculty Scholarship

This paper analyzes the influence that juvenile offenders serving time in the same correctional facility have on each other's subsequent criminal behavior. The analysis is based on data on over 8,000 individuals serving time in 169 juvenile correctional facilities during a two-year period in Florida. These data provide a complete record of past crimes, facility assignments, and arrests and adjudications in the year following release for each individual. To control for the non-random assignment to facilities, we include facility and facility-by-prior offense fixed effects, thereby estimating peer effects using only within-facility variation over time. We find strong evidence ...


Public Attitudes About The Culpability And Punishment Of Young Offenders, Elizabeth S. Scott, N. Dickon Reppucci, Jill Antonishak, Jennifer T. Degennaro Jan 2006

Public Attitudes About The Culpability And Punishment Of Young Offenders, Elizabeth S. Scott, N. Dickon Reppucci, Jill Antonishak, Jennifer T. Degennaro

Faculty Scholarship

Conventional wisdom holds that the public supports harsh punishment of juvenile offenders, and politicians often argue that the public demands tough policies. But public opinion is usually gauged through simplistic polls, often conducted in the wake of highly publicized violent crimes by juveniles. This study seeks to probe public opinion about the culpability of young offenders as compared to adult counterparts through more nuanced and comprehensive measures in a neutral setting (i.e. not in response to a high profile crime or during a political campaign when the media focuses on the issue). The opinions of 788 community adults were ...


Rational Choice And Developmental Influences On Recidivism Among Adolescent Felony Offenders, Jeffrey Fagan, Alex R. Piquero Jan 2006

Rational Choice And Developmental Influences On Recidivism Among Adolescent Felony Offenders, Jeffrey Fagan, Alex R. Piquero

Faculty Scholarship

Recent law and scholarship has claimed that the developmental limitations of adolescents affect their capacity for control and decision making with respect to crime, diminishing their culpability and reducing their exposure to punishment. Social science has focused on two concurrent adolescent developmental influence: the internalization of legal rules and norms that regulate social and antisocial behaviors, and the development of rational thought to frame behavioral choices and decisions. The interaction of these two developmental processes, and the identification of one domain of socialization and development as the primary source of motivation or restraint in adolescence, is the focus of this ...


The Effectiveness Of Juvenile Correctional Facilities: Public Versus Private Management, Patrick J. Bayer, David Pozen Jan 2005

The Effectiveness Of Juvenile Correctional Facilities: Public Versus Private Management, Patrick J. Bayer, David Pozen

Faculty Scholarship

This paper uses data on juvenile offenders released from correctional facilities in Florida to explore the effects of facility management type (private for-profit, private nonprofit, public state-operated, and public county-operated) on recidivism outcomes and costs. The data provide detailed information on individual characteristics, criminal and correctional histories, judge-assigned restrictiveness levels, and home zip codes – allowing us to control for the non-random assignment of individuals to facilities far better than any previous study. Relative to all other management types, for-profit management leads to a statistically significant increase in recidivism, but relative to nonprofit and state-operated facilities, for-profit facilities operate at a ...


Aggravating Youth: Roper V. Simmons And Age Discrimination, Elizabeth F. Emens Jan 2005

Aggravating Youth: Roper V. Simmons And Age Discrimination, Elizabeth F. Emens

Faculty Scholarship

In Roper v. Simmons, the Supreme Court confronted a difficult question: Given that being younger than eighteen is merely a proxy for diminished culpability, why not let jurors decide whether youth mitigates the culpability of an individual sixteen- or seventeen-year-old offender? The Court's subtle answer draws on psychological literature about the differences between juveniles and adults, but ultimately depends as much on concerns about the mind of the adult juror as on the distinctive traits of juveniles. Read in its best light, Kennedy's opinion seems to turn on the insight that while age-based classifications are rational – they are ...


Legal Socialization Of Children And Adolescents, Jeffrey Fagan, Tom Tyler Jan 2005

Legal Socialization Of Children And Adolescents, Jeffrey Fagan, Tom Tyler

Faculty Scholarship

Research on children and the law has recently renewed its focus on the development of children's ties to law and legal actors. We identify the developmental process through which these relations develop as legal socialization, a process that unfolds during childhood and adolescence as part of a vector of developmental capital that promotes compliance with the law and cooperation with legal actors. In this paper, we show that ties to the law and perceptions of law and legal actors among children and adolescents change over time and age. We show that neighborhood contexts and experiences with legal actors shape ...


Be Careful What You Wish For: Legal Sanctions And Public Safety Among Adolescent Offenders In Juvenile And Criminal Court, Jeffrey Fagan, Aaron Kupchik, Akiva Liberman Jan 2004

Be Careful What You Wish For: Legal Sanctions And Public Safety Among Adolescent Offenders In Juvenile And Criminal Court, Jeffrey Fagan, Aaron Kupchik, Akiva Liberman

Faculty Scholarship

Three decades of legislative activism have resulted in a broad expansion of states' authority to transfer adolescent offenders from juvenile to criminal (adult) courts. At the same time that legislatures have broadened the range of statutes and lowered the age thresholds for eligibility for transfer, states also have reallocated discretion away from judges and instituted simplified procedures that permit prosecutors to elect whether adolescents are prosecuted and sentenced in juvenile or criminal court. These developments reflect popular and political concerns that relatively lenient or attenuated punishment in juvenile court violates proportionality principles for serious crimes committed by adolescents, and is ...


The Decline Of The Juvenile Death Penalty: Scientific Evidence Of Evolving Norms, Jeffrey Fagan, Valerie West Jan 2004

The Decline Of The Juvenile Death Penalty: Scientific Evidence Of Evolving Norms, Jeffrey Fagan, Valerie West

Faculty Scholarship

In 2003, the Missouri Supreme Court set aside the death sentence of Christopher Simmons, who was 17 when he was arrested for the murder of Shirley Crook. The Simmons court held that the "evolving standards of decency" embodied in the Eighth Amendment's prohibition of cruel and unusual punishments barred execution of persons who committed capital crimes before their 18th birthday. This decision was based in part on the emerging legislative consensus in the states opposing execution of juvenile offenders and the infrequency with which the death penalty is imposed on juvenile offenders. The State sought a writ of certiorari ...


Building Criminal Capital Behind Bars: Peer Effects In Juvenile Corrections, Patrick J. Bayer, Randi Pintoff, David Pozen Jan 2003

Building Criminal Capital Behind Bars: Peer Effects In Juvenile Corrections, Patrick J. Bayer, Randi Pintoff, David Pozen

Faculty Scholarship

This paper analyzes the influence that juvenile offenders serving time in the same correctional facility have on each other's subsequent criminal behavior. The analysis is based on data on over 8,000 individuals serving time in 169 juvenile correctional facilities during a two-year period in Florida. These data provide a complete record of past crimes, facility assignments, and arrests and adjudications in the year following release for each individual. To control for the non-random assignment to facilities, we include facility fixed effects, thereby estimating peer effects using only within-facility variation over time. We find strong evidence of peer effects ...


Atkins, Adolescence And The Maturity Heuristic: Rationales For A Categorical Exemption For Juveniles From Capital Punishment, Jeffrey Fagan Jan 2003

Atkins, Adolescence And The Maturity Heuristic: Rationales For A Categorical Exemption For Juveniles From Capital Punishment, Jeffrey Fagan

Faculty Scholarship

In Atkins v. Virginia, the U.S. Supreme Court held that mentally retarded people lacked a range of developmental capacities that were necessary to establish the higher threshold of culpability for the execution of murderers in the Court's death penalty jurisprudence. The Court emphasized that the impairments of mental retardation lead to a ... special risk of wrongful execution. The Court had previously concluded that the limitations in developmental capacities that characterize mentally retarded defendants also characterize a significant proportion of adolescent offenders. These parallels invite an extension of the Atkins Court's reasoning to juveniles by highlighting the diminished ...


This Will Hurt Me More Than It Hurts You: Social And Legal Consequences Of Criminalizing Delinquency, Jeffrey Fagan Jan 2002

This Will Hurt Me More Than It Hurts You: Social And Legal Consequences Of Criminalizing Delinquency, Jeffrey Fagan

Faculty Scholarship

Since 1990, nearly every state has enacted new laws to expand the transfer adolescent offenders from juvenile to criminal courts for sentencing and punishment. What happens to adolescents once placed in the criminal justice system, the returns to crime control from these policies, and the potential violations of human rights that ensue, are the focus of this essay. The quick pace of change, the broad reach of the new laws, the potential for unintended negative outcomes, and the harsh conditions of adult punishment for juvenile offenders add new urgency to these questions. The first section discusses the tension between new ...


Punishment, Proportionality And Jurisdictional Transfer Of Adolescent Offenders: A Test Of The Leniency Gap Hypothesis, Jeffrey Fagan, Aaron Kupchik, Akiva Liberman Jan 2002

Punishment, Proportionality And Jurisdictional Transfer Of Adolescent Offenders: A Test Of The Leniency Gap Hypothesis, Jeffrey Fagan, Aaron Kupchik, Akiva Liberman

Faculty Scholarship

In the past two decades, nearly every state has expanded its authority and simplified its procedures to transfer adolescent offenders from juvenile to criminal (adult) courts. As a result, the use of jurisdictional transfer has grown steadily. These developments reflect popular and political concerns that punishment in juvenile courts is too lenient for serious crimes committed by adolescents. Yet there is mixed evidence that expanded transfer authority has produced more certain or severe punishments for adolescents prosecuted in criminal courts. Some empirical studies show that adolescents transferred to criminal court are more likely to be convicted, sentenced to prison, and ...


Blaming Youth, Elizabeth S. Scott Jan 2002

Blaming Youth, Elizabeth S. Scott

Faculty Scholarship

This essay addresses how law makers should think about developmental immaturity in assigning criminal punishment to young offenders. This issue has received little attention in policy debates or in the academic literature, in part because young offenders traditionally have been dealt with in a separate system that held to the view that their disposition was not governed by the criminal law. In the past generation, this model of juvenile of juvenile justice has become obsolete, and, under recent reforms, youths are increasingly tried and punished as adults. These policy changes have proceeded with little attention to the conventional limits on ...


The Legal Construction Of Childhood, Elizabeth S. Scott Jan 2000

The Legal Construction Of Childhood, Elizabeth S. Scott

Faculty Scholarship

Two features of the legal regulation of childhood seem troublesome, but ultimately contribute to sensible policies in most contexts. First, the boundary between childhood and adulthood varies in different policy domains, through a regime of age grading under which elementary school students are deemed adults for some legal purposes, while, for other purposes, college students are children. Second, the transitional stage of adolescence is virtually invisible, because, for most purposes, law makers employ binary categories, classifying adolescents as either children or as adults. This framework – a series of legislative bright line rules, arrayed around a presumptive age of majority – generally ...