Below is the abstract for “Adolescents in the Justice System: A Progress Report on the Restatement of Children and the Law,” available for download on SSRN.

Professor Elizabeth Scott, the chief reporter of the American Law Institute’s (ALI) Restatement of Children and the Law, has often observed that the nation’s widespread commitment to juvenile justice reform in the twenty-first century should be grounded in two premises: (1) the laws and practices of the juvenile justice system must be grounded in and guided by evolving knowledge about adolescent development; and (2) youth-serving institutions, including the justice system, must collaborate to erase substantial racial disparities in intervention, discipline, and punishment. This Symposium will explore the current draft of the Restatement of Children and the Law with a focus on these two policy imperatives. Two uniquely qualified and accomplished experts have agreed to comment on the current draft of the Restatement from the perspectives of adolescent development and racial equity.

First, Thomas Grisso, Emeritus Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, addresses the proposed Restatement’s approach to the assessment of adolescent decisional capacity, a pivotal feature of the law’s evolving effort to ground the law in advancing knowledge about adolescent development. Second, Kristin Henning, Blume Professor of Law at the Georgetown Law Center, reflects on the profound challenge our legal system faces in the effort to achieve unbiased, fair, and effective responses to youthful offending. My assignment is to respond to their respective critiques and proposals.


Richard Bonnie

Associate Reporter, Children and the Law

Richard J. Bonnie is Harrison Foundation Professor of Medicine and Law Emeritus at the University of Virginia School of Law, having retired from teaching in 2023. He formerly served as director of the Institute of Law, Psychiatry and Public Policy at the University of Virginia. ­­He teaches and writes about health law and policy, bioethics, criminal law, and public policies relating to mental health, substance abuse, and public health. He has co-authored leading textbooks on criminal law and public health law.