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      Jurors' perceptions of juvenile defendants: the influence of intellectual disability, abuse history, and confession evidence.

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          Abstract

          Understanding jurors' perceptions of juvenile defendants has become increasingly important as more and more juvenile cases are being tried in adult criminal court rather than family or juvenile court. Intellectual disability and child maltreatment are overrepresented among juvenile delinquents, and juveniles (particularly disabled juveniles) are at heightened risk for falsely confessing to crimes. In two mock trial experiments, we examined the effects of disability, abuse history, and confession evidence on jurors' perceptions of a juvenile defendant across several different crime scenarios. Abused juveniles were treated more leniently than nonabused juveniles only when the juvenile's crime was motivated by self-defense against the abuser. Jurors used disability as a mitigating factor, making more lenient judgments for a disabled than a nondisabled juvenile. Jurors also completely discounted a coerced confession for a disabled juvenile, but not for a nondisabled juvenile. In fact, compared with when it was portrayed as voluntary, jurors generally discounted a juvenile's coerced confession. Implications for public policy and directions for future research are discussed.

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          Author and article information

          Journal
          Behav Sci Law
          Behavioral sciences & the law
          1099-0798
          0735-3936
          : 27
          : 3
          Article
          10.1002/bsl.873
          19391102
          (c) 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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