harmful when criminal behavior is on the table.85 Although youth are vulnerable when faced with
pressure from their peers, they are especially susceptible to coercion from authority figures.86 It is
not hard to imagine how these factors generally have a greater effect on an adolescent than an adult
in the same situation. The instability affecting a juvenile’s decision-making, impulsivity, and
vulnerability will diminish as the juvenile develops and matures.87
The above factors have implications on a juvenile’s propensity to participate in criminal
behavior, but the factors could also have legal consequences. For example, police are more likely
to obtain a false confession from a juvenile than an adult.88 Several factors are prevalent in juvenile
false confessions: (1) psychological and developmental disabilities, (2) a waiver of Miranda rights,
(3) coercive interrogation process, such as “psychological manipulations, accusation, isolation,
and confrontation,” and (4) deceptive interrogation practices.89 These factors, combined with a
juvenile’s underdeveloped cognitive and emotional abilities, make juveniles more susceptible to
Following the thinking of the moderate Progressive approach discussed in the previous section,
the principles of therapeutic jurisprudence indicate that the cognitive differences between juveniles
and adults should be taken into account when evaluating the existing procedures, policies, and
roles of the various players of the legal system.
C. Incarceration Is Not the Answer
Adherence to a natural law theory compels us to evaluate existing laws in light of a higher law,
defined in the Judeo-Christian community by biblical parameters. The God of the Bible gives
special attention to the most helpless in society and simultaneously vests the governmental
authorities with the power to punish wrongdoers.91 Even though the Bible contains numerous
commands to act justly and care for the orphan, it does not provide concrete instructions about
how to do so.92 Additionally, therapeutic jurisprudence indicates that the developing nature of
86 Id. at 297.
87 Id. at 297. A correctional system in Vermont has implemented a program designed to teach adult offenders how
to observe their own thinking, to recognize the consequences of that thinking, and to learn specific skills for
controlling that thinking” with the following strategies:
(1) identify the patterns of thinking that have led him or her to perform acts of crime and violence in the
past and that pose a risk of such behaviors in the future;
(2) learn specific skills for intervening in and controlling these patterns of thinking; and
(3) summarize these patterns and interventions in the form of a plan for controlling their high-risk
thinking in the community.
Ronner, supra note 73, at 112.
88 Ayleen Barbel Fattal, Interrogations Can Lead to False Confessions by Juveniles, Study Finds, FIU NEWS (Oct. 16,
89 Laurel LaMontagne, Children Under Pressure: The Problem of Juvenile False Confessions and Potential Solutions,
W. ST. U. L. REV. 29, 36, 39–43 (2013).
90 Amelia Hritz, Michal Blau, & Sara Tomezsko, False Confessions, CORNELL U. L. SCH. SOC. SCI. & L.
http://courses2.cit.cornell.edu/sociallaw/student_projects/FalseConfessions.html (last visited Mar. 13, 2016).
91 See supra Part IV.A (summarizing what the Bible says about the vulnerable in our society and outlining the authority
given to governmental authorities).
92 See supra note 67 (quoting biblical texts commanding individuals to show mercy to the most vulnerable members