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American Juvenile Justice$
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Franklin E. Zimring

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780195181166

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195181166.001.0001

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Penal Proportionality for the Young Offender

Penal Proportionality for the Young Offender

Notes on Immaturity, Capacity, and Diminished Responsibility

Chapter:
(p.49) Five Penal Proportionality for the Young Offender
Source:
American Juvenile Justice
Author(s):

Franklin E. Zimring

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195181166.003.0021

This chapter considers one set of subjective personal factors that influence the extent to which adolescent defendants deserve punishment for particular blameworthy acts. It argues that even when a particular young person possesses the cognitive capacities and social controls necessary to be eligible for punishment, immaturity should continue to be a mitigating circumstance for some time. The chapter is organized into four sections. The first section attempts to create mutually exclusive definitions of capacity and diminished responsibility to avoid a persistent confusion between threshold issues of capacity and questions of the proper level of punishment for an immature offender. The second section argues that juvenile courts in the United States have been a recognized part of a punishment system for at least a generation. The third section first distinguishes between two separate reasons for lower levels of punishment of the immature: penal proportionality and theories of youth as a protected and privileged status. The diminished responsibility doctrine in penal theory is then developed at some length and contrasted to changes in adolescent punishment based on youth policy. The fourth section addresses the relationship between assumptions about immaturity that animate various conceptions of diminished responsibility and other legal doctrines that govern adolescence in modern industrial states.

Keywords:   subjective personal factors, adolescent defendants, punishment, immaturity, juvenile courts, penal theory, diminished responsibility

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