Research challenges treatment of young criminals April 8, 2011 Research by a Murdoch University academic is challenging the way young people accused of serious crimes in the United States are treated. Psychology lecturer Dr Kathy Modecki’s research has shown that adolescents’ decision-making is relatively immature compared to adults’. It suggests that this significant difference should be taken into account when punishing a youth that has committed a criminal offence, and that the notion of ‘adult crime compels an adult punishment’ could be unnecessarily harsh. Dr Modecki’s research is currently being used in the US Supreme Court to help make a challenging decision on the coercive practice of police interrogating children in school for non-school matters. The case currently before the courts is J.D.B. v. State of North Carolina. “My research shows that adolescents are affected by emotional and social influences that contribute to immature judgement which is reflected in their decision making,” Dr Modecki said. “The problem is that in a clinic or laboratory setting, adolescents may display similar decision-making capabilities as adults, but in the real world when faced with many outside influences – such as when faced with police questioning – they may perform very differently. “Adolescents are more likely to be influenced by peers, less likely to think about future consequences and more susceptible to their emotions.” J.D.B. v. State of North Carolina deals with the interrogation of a 13-year-old student with special needs about a series of neighbourhood break-ins that did not take place on school property or implicate school safety. The Juvenile Law Center has argued that J.D.B. was ‘in custody’ during his interrogation on school grounds and that the student’s age is relevant to the custody determination. This means that although the questioning took place at school, J.D.B should have been treated as if they had been taken under arrest and been read their rights. Dr Modecki is looking forward to the outcome of the case this month and is keen to see the research have an impact on society at large, both in the US and possibly in the future for Australia as well. Dr Modecki’s research was also used last year in a major landmark case for the US Supreme Court. In that case, the US Supreme Court ruled that it is an unconstitutionally cruel and unusual punishment to lock up teenagers for life without any chance of parole (unless for murder). Print This Post Media contact: Hayley Mayne Tel: (08) 9360 2491 | Mobile: 0400 297 221 | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Categories: General, School of Psychology, School of Psychology Research Tags: adolescent decision making, crime, jdb v state of north carolina, kathy modecki, us supreme court, youth Leave a comment Name (required) Mail (will not be published) (required) Website You can use these tags : <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong> We read every comment and will make every effort to approve each new comment within one working day. To ensure speedy posting, please keep your comments relevant to the topic of discussion, free of inappropriate language and in-line with the editorial integrity of this newsroom. If not, your comments may not be published. Thanks for commenting!