Council for the Administration of Criminal Justice and Youth Protection

The Council calls attention to detained juveniles with a mild mental impairment. A large part of the juveniles detained in secure youth care institutions and correctional institutions for young offenders does not receive the care and treatment necessary to prevent further behavioural problems and (re-)offending.

In an advice to the State Secretaries of Health, Welfare and Sport and of Security and Justice, delivered on its own initiative, the Council explains the approach concerning this category of juveniles who have been placed in a secure institution under civil or criminal law. Based on various sources the Council concludes that the nature of the problems of this category of juveniles is serious and that these youngsters are overrepresented in the justice system, especially those serving sentences in correctional institutions for juvenile offenders (under the PIJ-measure) and repeat offenders. These juveniles have less cognitive faculties (especially as regards strategic thinking, information processing and impulse control) and compared to normally gifted youngsters they more often have psychological disorders, emotional and behavioural problems, run a higher risk of drugs use and have a lack of support from home.

The Council has identified several problem areas in the way this category of juveniles is treated in practice, also in view of the necessary preparations for a safe return to society. For instance, there are no proper (fast) screening instruments in the Netherlands to detect whether a young person may have a mild mental impairment, and the number of special units available is limited. Because young persons with a mild mental impairment are often not recognized as such, they do not receive the necessary care and treatment.

An adequate approach to this group of juveniles may prevent (repetition of) serious behavioural problems or criminal offences, which is not only in the interest of the juvenile concerned, but also in the interest of society at large. The Council recommends that efforts are made to detect a possible mild mental impairment as early as possible and to tailor the approach to that.

Contact person for the media: Ms P.L.M. Steinmann, Council for the Administration of Criminal Justice and Youth Protection, 070- 3619338

The report “Zorg voor ingesloten licht verstandelijk beperkte jongeren” (“Care for detained juveniles with a mild mental impairment") can be obtained from the Council Secretariat, 070 – 3619300, or www.rsj.nl

1The advice concerns juveniles who have been placed in a secure youth care institution under a custodial placement order and juveniles who have ben placed in a correctional institution for juvenile offenders. In this advisory report the Council considers young people with an IQ between 50 and 70, or with an IQ between 70 and 85 and a reduced social adaptability, as juveniles with a mild mental impairment. With this (broad) definition the Council concurs with current practice in the Netherlands.