News and Commentary Archive

Explore recent scientific discoveries and news as well as CLBB events, commentary, and press.

Mission

The speed of technology in neuroscience as it impacts ethical and just decisions in the legal system needs to be understood by lawyers, judges, public policy makers, and the general public. The Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Law, Brain, and Behavior is an academic and professional resource for the education, research, and understanding of neuroscience and the law. Read more

A Court Put a 9-Year-Old in Shackles for Stealing Chewing Gum—an Outrage That Happens Every Single Day

By Brian Schatz | Mother Jones | 24 February 2015

The nine-year-old stole a 14-stick pack of Trident “Layers” chewing gum, Orchard Peach and Ripe Mango flavor, worth $1.48. He’d lingered by the beverage isle of the Super 1 Foods in Post Falls, Idaho, for a while before bailing out the front door. The theft led to a missed court appearance, which led to an arrest and a night spent in a juvenile jail. The next day, the third-grader appeared in court, chained and shackled.

At least 100,000 children are shackled in the US every year, according to estimates by David Shapiro, a campaign manager at the Campaign Against Indiscriminate Juvenile Shackling. (Formal data on numbers of shackled kids does not exist.) As juvenile justice practices have grown more punitive over the past several decades, shackling has become far more common. This month, the American Bar Association (ABA) passed a resolution calling for an end to this practice because it is harmful to juveniles, largely unnecessary for courtroom safety—and contradicts existing law. “We’re not just talking handcuffs here. These kids are virtually hog-tied,” says John D. Elliott, a South Carolina defense attorney who worked on the resolution. “The only difference is their hands are in front.” Continue reading »

The US Is the Only Country In the World That Locks Up Kids For Life. Could That Finally Change?

By Bryan Schatz | Mother Jones | February 11, 2015

Travion Blount was only 17 when a Virginia court dealt him six life sentences. Two years earlier, he’d robbed a group of teenagers with two older friends at gunpoint during a house party. They stole phones, money, marijuana, and purses. Blount hurt no one, but one of the older boys struck someone with the butt of his gun. Blount’s friends pled guilty and got 10 and 13 years. He went to trial instead, and when he lost, they sent him away to die in prison.

Blount is one of more than 2,500 individuals serving life sentences in American prisons and jails for crimes they committed as children. The US is the only country in the world to sentence juveniles to life behind bars.

However, that could change. Continue reading »