Kent Make-Up Their Minds: Juveniles, Mental Illness, and the Need for Continued Implementation of Therapeutic Justice within the Juvenile Justice and Criminal Justice Systems
17 Pages Posted: 9 Nov 2014
Date Written: 2013
This article discusses issues and promising solutions to the inundation of minors with mental illness into the juvenile justice (JJ) and criminal justice (CJ) systems. Minors, who have fewer rights than adults, require therapeutic justice to treat mental illness. In Section II, I analyze the precedence set by Kent v. U.S. for procedural due process in juvenile cases. In subsections A and B, I discuss how courts have applied Kent to issues that involved juvenile competency and consent for treatment. Many juveniles have been traumatized by abuse and other environmental factors. These children are not hardened criminals. The system should attempt to make them whole before castigating them as adults or deciding to waive them into criminal court. Section III discusses the role that trauma plays in recidivism and entanglements with the JJ and CJ systems. Section IV discusses criminalization of mental illness, as it relates to biological and environmental factors, and the justice systems. Therapeutic justice is essential for rehabilitating youth and adults who enter the system and require treatment. In Section V, I explain why therapeutic jurisprudence is about problem solving rather than punishment, with the primary goal of social justice. Section VI discusses mental health court and other programs for mentally ill juveniles in need of therapeutic justice. Section VII offers a new vision for the justice system’s treatment of mentally ill delinquents and offenders. This section suggests that society needs to continue shifting the roles of members of the court to a therapeutic position. It also suggests that we need to continue humanely building our response to mentally ill offenders at both the community and political levels.
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