Breakdown in the Language Zone: The Prevalence of Language Impairments among Juvenile and Adult Offenders and Why it Matters
University of Wisconsin Law School
Gregory Van Rybroek
Mendota Mental Health Institute
August 23, 2010
US Davis Journal of Juvenile Law and Policy, Forthcoming
University of Wisconsin Legal Studies Research Paper No. 1127
For over eighty years, social scientists have known that poor language skills are closely associated with the constellation of emotional and behavioral disturbances routinely seen in juvenile and criminal court. These include conduct disorder, academic deficits, social incompetence, impulsivity, and even aggression. As we might expect, researchers have also found that language impairments are present at a high rate within juvenile and adult correctional institutions. So far however, the law has barely acknowledged even the existence of this body of social science, let alone its significance for the administration of justice, rehabilitation, and public safety. This article is an attempt to bring this phenomenon to light. It examines why widespread language deficits among so many juvenile and adult defendants should be a matter of great concern for the juvenile and criminal justice systems, and perhaps more importantly, what we can do about it.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 89
Keywords: Language, Behavior, Juvenile Law, Criminal Law, Criminal Law & Procedure
Date posted: August 24, 2010 ; Last revised: April 12, 2011
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