Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Male juvenile delinquents-Mental health, Male juvenile delinquents-Psychology, Competency to stand trial, Juvenile offenders, Adjudicative competence


The current study assessed factors associated with competency to stand trial (CST) for 134 male juvenile offenders. Written reports of each juvenile's competency evaluation provided data on age, educational and family background, mental health, types of offense, and understanding of the juvenile justice system. Various differences emerged between 10-15 and 16-18 year age groups, including behavioral and developmental issues for younger youth, and school and substance use problems among older youth. Psychosis, paternal presence, and understanding of court roles and procedures differentiated the youth determined to be competent to proceed to trial versus those who were not. To a less significant extent, educational status, developmental delay, receipt of special services, taking medication at time of arrest and diagnosis of a mood disorder also emerged as characteristics distinguishing competent and incompetent youth. With respect to differences related to competency between the two age groups, ADHD and education level were both marginally related to competency for the younger juveniles. For the older youth, diagnoses of mood disorders were significantly associated with competency, while developmental delays, and to a less significant extent, psychotic disorders were associated with incompetency. Additionally, the absence of a father in the home, no history of receiving special school services, and taking psychiatric medication at the time of arrest were also significantly associated with competence for the older youth. Results identify and discuss differences among younger or older delinquent youth deemed CST, and point to next steps for research examining age in relation to other characteristics of youth.




iii, 61 p. Thesis (M.S.W.)--Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2009. Includes bibliographical references (p. 47-53)