HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Concordia University School of Law

Friday, July 15, 2005

Juvenile Mental Health Treatment

HafemeisterThomas L. Hafemeister, Associate Professor and Director of Legal Studies at the Institute of Law, Psychiatry and Public Policy at the University of Virginia School of Law has written a new article entitled, "Parameters and Implementation of a Right to Mental Health Treatment for Juvenile Offenders" which appears in the Virginia Journal of Social Policy and the Law, Vol. 12, No. 1, pp. 61-139 (2004).   The abstract follows:

Awareness is growing of the need for mental health treatment for detained juvenile offenders. This article explores the legal issues associated with the treatment of juvenile offenders with mental health needs who are placed in secured housing. After addressing overlapping terminology that has clouded analysis of this topic, the article reviews the emerging literature on the prevalence of mental disorders among juvenile offenders and the consequences of failing to provide adequate treatment. A discussion follows of the evolution of the juvenile justice system and the guiding concepts relevant to a right to mental health treatment. The article then addresses the status of a right to mental health treatment of these juveniles, including potential bases for this right under the Constitution, federal and state statutory law, and common law. After establishing the existence of this right, its parameters and components are described. Finally, a series of issues are examined that are integral to the implementation of this right: (a) the authority of juvenile courts to order specific mental health treatment, (b) the consequences of a failure by either a juvenile offender or the agency with custody of the juvenile to comply with a court order for mental health treatment, (c) the right of a juvenile offender to refuse mental health treatment, (d) the right of a juvenile offender's parent to authorize treatment, and (e) the transfer of juvenile offenders from a juvenile correctional facility to a mental health facility. This article ultimately identifies the foundation, parameters, and implications of the right of a juvenile offender to mental health treatment.


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