Juvenile False Confessions and Competency to Stand Trial: Implications for Policy Reformation and Research

Amanda Ferguson, Megan M. Jimenez, Rebecca L. Jackson


In the 1990s, youth crime rates peaked, which led to an increase in arrests, interrogations, and prosecutions of juveniles (U.S. Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2006). The influx of juveniles in the justice system prompted many researchers to inquire about legal competence in minors. Despite recent declines in juvenile crime rates, researchers are still concerned about developmental capacities of adolescents who are involved in the legal system (Grisso et al., 2003). This review will address two related aspects of legal competence: false confessions resulting from the interrogation process and competency to stand trial. Factors associated with competence such as development, mental illness, and mental retardation will be reviewed. Lastly, suggestions are made for policy reformations and directions for future study. 

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