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Exploding the Superpredator Myth: Why Infancy is the Preadolescent's Best Defense in Juvenile Court

New York University Law Review, Vol. 75, No. 159, 2000

Loyola-LA Legal Studies Paper No. 2012-40

39 Pages Posted: 5 Apr 2011 Last revised: 26 Oct 2012

Lara Abigail Bazelon

University of San Francisco School of Law

Date Written: May 1, 2000

Abstract

This paper advocates the implementation of a reformulated infancy defense by juvenile courts. The defense would create a protective presumption for juveniles ages seven to eleven who are charged with serious offenses. This presumption would require the state to prove that the charged juvenile had both the capacity to possess and was in possession of the charged crime's requisite mens rea. The defense would grant a similar protection to juveniles over the age of eleven who could demonstrate lack of capacity sufficient to justify such a presumption. The paper desribes the development of the infancy defense and critiques the primary justifications behind its erosion, including the Rehabilitation Theory, the Procedural Policing Theory, and the Demarcation Theory. The paper analyzes the ongoing trend towards treating juveniles as miniature adults, the emphasis on punishment over rehabilitation in the modern juvenile court system, and the psychological differences between juveniles and adults relating to their capacity to form criminal intent and understand the consequences of their behavior.

Keywords: juvenile justice, juvenile offender, infancy defense

Suggested Citation

Bazelon, Lara Abigail, Exploding the Superpredator Myth: Why Infancy is the Preadolescent's Best Defense in Juvenile Court (May 1, 2000). New York University Law Review, Vol. 75, No. 159, 2000; Loyola-LA Legal Studies Paper No. 2012-40. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1678132

Lara Abigail Bazelon (Contact Author)

University of San Francisco School of Law ( email )

2130 Fulton Street
San Francisco, CA 94117
United States
310-663-7105 (Phone)

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