Psychopathy among juvenile homicide offenders

Authored by: Jonathan W. Caudill , Henriikka Weir

Routledge International Handbook of Psychopathy and Crime

Print publication date:  August  2018
Online publication date:  August  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138085169
eBook ISBN: 9781315111476
Adobe ISBN:


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The current chapter examines the association between psychopathy and juvenile homicide offending. Juvenile homicide offenders have unique and, in many cases, deleterious experiences, such as exposure to violence and prior adverse childhood experiences. Although juvenile homicide offending is a rare event, those juveniles that commit murder evince some troubling psychological characteristics. Of these most violent juvenile offenders, a subclass of them exhibit traits aligned with the three-factor model of psychopathy, such as callousness, grandiosity, manipulativeness, impulsivity, disregard for law and the welfare of others, and risk taking. Further complicating matters is the continuity of behavior among them. Research suggests that greater than one-half of the juveniles that commit homicide recidivate for another felony offense after being punished for their crimes. While the scholarly evidence suggests a prevalence of psychopathic traits among the most serious, violent, and habitual juvenile offenders, the social conscience has limited the criminal justice system’s abilities to deal effectively with the threat they pose.

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