Although the assessment of psychopathy and conduct disorders has been performed in the adjudicative process for centuries, it has not been long since it was introduced in the investigation of the juvenile case. The main aim of employing this measure with non-adults is to provide a more profound motives’ understanding, as well as to improve the treatment of antisocial conduct at its early stages (Dowd, Singer, & Wilson, 2006).
However, there is still concern that the identifying psychopathy symptoms can be troublesome due to the unstable mental characteristics typical of the relevant age, thus some transition states can be mistaken for the psychopathy disorders (Murrie, Cornell, & McCoy, 2005).
The importance of diagnosing psychopathy and other conduct disorders in order to perform an effective crime policy is unquestioned. It has been widely proved that the disability to perform an adequate perception of the environment and to estimate the impact of one’s actions leads to the abnormal behavior both among juveniles and adults (Malatesti, & McMillan, 2010).
As far as adjudicative proceedings for adults and non-adults have a lot in common, there is no reason why psychopathy assessment should not be applied to juveniles. The evaluation report on the mental state can have a decisive influence on the legal judgment in case any evidence of conduct disorder is found.
The findings of the psychopathy assessment can be primarily used to prove the lack of the suspect’s responsibility. Each alleged juvenile is to be examined by a health care specialist that will evaluate the suspect’s competence to stand the trial.
One is to provide careful consideration of the expertise results in order to decide whether the juvenile’s conduct was determined by the incapacity to estimate the wrongfulness of the actions performed when the violation was committed.
The provided data can be later called for in case the same suspect is to stand the adult trial. It can also be used in order to estimate possible risks of the juvenile’s return to crime, as well as to put the suspect on proper medication in case some mental disorders have been discovered (Cruise, 2006).
Conduct disorder assessment is beneficial for the juvenile adjudicative process as it can assist in evaluating the suspect’s responsibility and estimating future risks.
For example, the discovery of a psychiatric deviation will lead to the sentence lightning, or a complete conviction overturn. Instead, the juvenile will be prescribed to undergo the treatment that will prevent the commitment of law violations in the future (Edens, Skeem, Cruise, & Cauffman, 2001).
On the other hand, the specificity of adolescent psychology might complicate the evaluation procedure and lead to wrong sentencing. Thus, skilled advocacy can take advantage of the unstable mental conditions of young suspects in order to help them escape from punishment. For this reason, the assessment process is to be performed by high-qualified specialists following the provided standards and with allowances made for the age peculiarities.
In conclusion, one should point out the importance of performing juveniles’ examination for psychopathy and conduct disorders. This assessment is necessary for the profound understanding of the case details, estimating the suspect’s ability to stand the trial, and preventing potential criminal acts.
Meanwhile, the vulnerability of the psychical functions of non-adults requires the work-out of the special scientific methods and the approaches capable of providing veridical evaluation results.
Cruise, K.R., (2006). Special Issues in Jevenile Justice. Applied Psychology in Criminal Justice, 2(3), 177-204.
Dowd, N.E., Singer, D.G., & Wilson, R.F. (2006). Handbook of Children, Culture, and Violence. Thousand Oaks, California: Sage Publications.
Edens, J.F., Skeem, J.L., Cruise, K.R., & Cauffman, E. (2001). Assessment of “Juvenile Psychopathy” and Its Association with Violence: A Critical Review. Behavioral Sciences and the Law, 19(1), 53-80.
Malatesti, L., & McMillan, J. (2010). Responsibility and Psychopathy:Interfacing Law, Psychiatry and Philosophy. New York, New York: Oxford University Press.
Murrie, D.C., Cornell, D.G., & McCoy, W.K. (2005). Psychopathy, Conduct Disorder, and Stigma: Does Diagnostic Labeling Influence Juvenile Probation Officer Recommendations? Law and Human Behavior, 29(3), 323-342.