Society's Retributive Response to Juvenile Violence: A Developmental Perspective

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Psychiatry



Document Type


Medical Subject Headings

Juvenile Delinquency; Violence; Crime; Adolescent; Adolescent Psychology




Examines theoretical and empirical challenges to a national trend toward increasingly punitive determinate sentences in juvenile court, and "automatic transfer" of juveniles to criminal court, for homicides and other serious violent offenses. Theory and research in developmental psychology, criminology, and child clinical psychology and psychiatry are examined, with special attention to (a) decision-making by adolescents; (b) characteristics of adolescents who commit homicide; and (c) adolescents' recidivism and potential for rehabilitation. Theoretical support is found for promoting legal responses to adolescent violent offenders that are different from those for adult violent offenders, arguing against determinate sentences based on the offense alone. Empirical support, however, is limited by the lack of relevant systematic research, for which specific recommendations are offered.

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Citation: Grisso, T. (1996). Society's retributive response to juvenile violence: A developmental perspective. Law and Human Behavior, 20, 229-247.