Social Information Processing, Subtypes of Violence, and a Progressive Construction of Culpability and Punishment in Juvenile Justice
Reid G. Fontaine
Florida State University
April 14, 2008
International Journal of Law and Psychiatry, Vol. 31, 136-149, 2008
Arizona Legal Studies Discussion Paper No. 08-05
Consistent with core principles of liberal theories of punishment (including humane treatment of offenders, respecting offender rights, parsimony, penal proportionality, and rehabilitation), progressive frameworks have sought to expand doctrines of mitigation and excuse such that culpability and punishment may be reduced. With respect to juvenile justice, scholars have proposed that doctrinal mitigation be broadened, and that adolescents, due to aspects of developmental immaturity (such as decision making capacity), be punished less severely than adults who commit the same crimes. One model of adolescent antisocial behavior that may be useful to a progressive theory of punishment in juvenile justice distinguishes between instrumental violence, by which the actor behaves thoughtfully and calmly to achieve personal gain, and reactive violence, which is characterized as impulsive, emotional retaliation toward a perceived threat or injustice. In particular, social cognitive differences between instrumental and reactive violence have implications for responsibility, length and structure of incarceration, rehabilitation, and other issues that are central to a progressive theory of juvenile culpability and punishment.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 15
Keywords: Criminal Culpability, Juvenile Justice, Violent Subtypes, Punishment, Developmental Immaturity, Social CognitionAccepted Paper Series
Date posted: January 28, 2008 ; Last revised: April 16, 2008
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