Distinguishing ‘Incorrigibility’ From ‘Transient Immaturity’: Risk Assessment in the Context of Sentencing/Resentencing Evaluations for Juvenile Homicide Offenders

Translational Issues in Psychological Science Vol. 5 Iss. 2 (2019) p. 132 - 142

Posted: 9 Jun 2020 Last revised: 1 Jul 2020

See all articles by Jaymes V. Fairfax-Columbo

Jaymes V. Fairfax-Columbo

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Sarah Fishel

Drexel University

David DeMatteo

Drexel University Thomas R. Kline School of Law

Date Written: June 1, 2019

Abstract

n two recent cases, the United States Supreme Court abolished mandatory juvenile life without parole (LWOP; Miller v. Alabama, 2012) and held that the ban applies retroactively (Montgomery v. Louisiana, 2016). Pointedly, the Court suggested that juveniles should only be sentenced to LWOP when they are 'incorrigible' or 'irreparably corrupt.' In practical terms, this means juveniles should only be sentenced to LWOP if they are unlikely to desist from criminal activity. Although there are no measures of long-term risk for juveniles, making it difficult to predict which juveniles are incorrigible or irreparably corrupt, forensic mental health professionals are increasingly being called upon to offer opinions about the long-term risk of juvenile offenders in homicide cases. This article provides a framework through which forensic mental health professionals can approach such cases. Given research indicating that most juvenile offenders will naturally desist from criminal activity over time, we suggest the default assumption of forensic mental health professionals should be that any individual juvenile offender is also likely to desist. Any adjustment from this base-rate-informed assumption requires empirical justification—namely, the existence of factors associated with life-course persistent offending. Further, treatment amenability, protective factors, and the availability of effective interventions for reducing criminal risk should be considered.

Note: PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved

Keywords: Forensic Psychology; Homicide; Juvenile Delinquency; Risk Assessment; Criminal Offenders; Criminal Behavior; Life Span; Protective Factors; Risk Factors

Suggested Citation

Fairfax-Columbo, Jaymes V. and Fishel, Sarah and DeMatteo, David, Distinguishing ‘Incorrigibility’ From ‘Transient Immaturity’: Risk Assessment in the Context of Sentencing/Resentencing Evaluations for Juvenile Homicide Offenders (June 1, 2019). Translational Issues in Psychological Science Vol. 5 Iss. 2 (2019) p. 132 - 142 , Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3601182

Jaymes V. Fairfax-Columbo

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Sarah Fishel

Drexel University

3141 Chestnut St
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

David DeMatteo (Contact Author)

Drexel University Thomas R. Kline School of Law ( email )

3320 Market Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
174
PlumX Metrics