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Developing Statutes for Competence to Stand Trial in Juvenile Delinquency Proceedings: A Guide for Lawmakers

Published Apr 2, 2012, Kimberly Larson, Ph.D., J.D.; Thomas Grisso, Ph.D.; National Youth Screening & Assessment Project

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The purpose of this guide is to assist states in developing legislation that will provide clear assistance for juvenile courts when applying competence to stand trial to juvenile court proceedings. Toward this end, the guide seeks to clarify the decision process for policymakers and legislators. However, while the main intent is to provide guidance to drafting committees, the guide may also be useful to advisory rules committees that are developing recommended court rules or legislative committees that are reviewing a bill that has already been introduced.

The legislative process typically begins with meetings of juvenile justice administrators, judges, attorneys, clinicians — and often legislators — with the intention of developing draft legislation. With many perspectives at the table, these meetings often involve collaboration, negotiation, and compromise in working through the many issues that must be addressed. This manual provides a framework to guide those discussions regarding juveniles’ competence to stand trial. It is our hope that the provision of an outline of important issues and possible resolutions of issues that policy-makers must consider in the creation of a statute will clarify and structure the issues that need to be addressed, thus saving a great deal of time in “locating” the issues. We anticipate that our outlines of optional resolutions for each issue will clarify conversations and debates regarding these key issues.

To download a short fact sheet describing the Guide, click here.


Supported by

Models for Change was a juvenile justice systems reform initiative supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, website operated by Justice Policy Institute.