From Troubled Teens to Tsarnaev: Promises and Perils of Adolescent Neuroscience and Law
Read the Harvard Crimson's summary of the event!
The neuroscience of adolescent brain development has had increasing impact on American jurisprudence. The U.S. Supreme Court relied on this neuroscience in Roper v. Simmons (2005) in barring execution for capital crimes committed as a juvenile and in Miller v. Alabama (2012) in holding that mandatory life without possibility of parole for juveniles is also unconstitutional. This panel examined the implications of developmental neuroscience for law in specific domains including death penalty mitigation for young adults over age 18 such as the Tsarnaev case, a developmentally informed view of Miranda and Competence to Stand Trial for juveniles, trial of youth as adults, and conditions of confinement in juvenile and adult incarceration. The panel also discussed the promises and perils for constitutional jurisprudence, legal and public policy reform, and trial practice of relying upon a complex body of science as it emerges.
The panel discussion was followed by the 2015 Petrie-Flom Center Open House.
Judith G. Edersheim, JD, MD, Co-Founder and Co-Director of the Center for Law, Brain and Behavior at Massachusetts General Hospital; Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School; and attending Psychiatrist in the Department of Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital
Judge Nancy Gertner (ret.), Senior Lecturer on Law, Harvard Law School; Faculty, Center for Law, Brain and Behavior at Massachusetts General Hospital
Robert Kinscherff, PhD, JD, Senior Fellow in Law and Applied Neuroscience in the Project on Law and Applied Neuroscience, a collaboration between the Petrie-Flom Center and the Center for Law, Brain and Behavior at Massachusetts General Hospital; Faculty in the Center for Law, Brain & Behavior at MGH; Faculty in the Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology and Associate Vice President for Community Engagement at the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology; and Senior Associate at the National Center for Mental Health and Juvenile Justice
Leah Somerville, PhD, Assistant Professor of Psychology, Harvard University; Faculty, Center for Law, Brain and Behavior at Massachusetts General Hospital
Moderator: I. Glenn Cohen, Professor of Law, Harvard Law School, and Faculty Director, Petrie-Flom Center
Couldn't attend? Check out our speakers' slide presentations!
Robert Kinscherff, PhD, JD, "Adolescent Brain Development in Juvenile Justice: Young Brains, Youthful Behavior and Law"
Leah Somerville, PhD, "Adolescent Brain Development and Psychological Functioning"
For more on the neuroscience of the adolescent brain, criminal sentencing, and the Tsarnaev case, check out these pieces from our panelists!
Judith G. Edersheim, "Could Tsarnaev Argue, ‘My Immature, Pot-Impaired Brain Made Me Do It’?", WBUR CommonHealth Blog, January 9, 2015
Panel with Judith G. Edersheim, "How Will Brain Science Affect The Tsarnaev Trial?", Radio Boston (WBUR), January 12, 2015
Judge Nancy Gertner, "We All Chose Death for Tsarnaev," Boston Globe, May 15, 2015 (login required)
Leah Somerville, "The Neuroscience," part of panel discussion "Juvenile Justice & the Adolescent Brain: Is Healthy Neurodevelopment a Civil Right?", Center for Law, Brain and Behavior, March 12, 2015
This event was free and open to the public.
Part of the Project on Law and Applied Neuroscience, cosponsored by the Center for Law, Brain and Behavior at Massachusetts General Hospital and the Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics at Harvard Law School.
VIDEO: I. Glenn Cohen, Welcome
VIDEO: Judith Edersheim, Introductory Remarks
VIDEO: Leah Somerville, "Adolescent Brain Development and Psychological Functioning"
VIDEO: Robert Kinscherff, Adolescent Brain Development in Juvenile Justice: Young Brains, Youthful Behavior and Law
VIDEO: Judge Nancy Gertner on the need for guidelines for judges in applying neuroscientic information in sentencing
VIDEO: Audience Q & A