from Appropriateness of juveniles being tried in adult courts
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Joining us now by phone from his home outside
good of you to speak with us.
LAURENCE STEINBERG (
Very well, thanks. Professor Steinberg, in the
STEINBERG: No, and that's part of the 4) ____________ and part of the crux of the
issue that we're talking about today. People become 5) ____________ in different ways, at
different ages, and the ages are kind of all over the place, 6) ____________ under
What are the constitutional requirements for someone to stand trial in adult
STEINBERG: Well, the Constitution 7)
that individuals who are charged
in criminal court be competent to stand 8) ____________
, and that means that they
understand the charges against them, they understand the roles of the various 9)
in court, they can assist counsel and they're capable of making
important legal 10)
about waiving their rights, including whether to take
the stand or not, or whether to accept a plea agreement that's proffered by the
And those kinds of judgments--are 17-year-old kids typically capable of making
them, and 18-year-olds--you know, 16-year-olds not? I mean, you say there's no
STEINBERG: Well, our group just finished the first-ever national study of 11)
to stand trial, in which we administered the same basic test of
competence to about 1,500 individuals 12) ____________
in age from 11 to 24. And what we
found was that, under 16, there are high numbers of kids who would 13)
competence test--that is, kids who would be not competent to stand trial by the
same standards that we use to exclude 14)
ill individuals from court. We
did find, however, that the proportions of 16- and 17-year-olds who were
competent to stand trial, according to this measure, were 15)
proportions of adults.
That's interesting. Were you testing just normal kids?
STEINBERG: Yes. We were testing 16)
kids, half of whom were in the
community and half of whom were in detention, but these were not children with
mental retardation or with mental 17) ____________ .
It's interesting--this might be a little bit off the subject, but have you
looked at this in terms of, you know, evolution? I mean, in hunter-gatherer 18)
, where we evolved over the years, I mean, most kids when they're 13,
14, 15 are full-fledged adults.
STEINBERG: Well, yes and no. I mean, in most societies, the 19)
between childhood and adulthood is a gradual one. So even in those less
industrialized societies, 13- and 14-year-olds probably didn't have the same
range of responsibilities that adults did. They weren't treated as children, but
they kind of had a learner's 20)
for a lot of those activities.
1. At what age do people become adults, according to Prof. Steinberg?
2. What does "being competent to stand trial" mean?
3. How did the proportions of 16 and 17 year-olds who were competent to stand trial compare to adults in his study?
4. Are many young people under 16 competent to stand trial?