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

Dr. Edersheim Explains the Insanity Defenses for Juvenile Killers

CLBB Co-Director Dr. Judith Edersheim spoke with VICE on the insanity defense and its unique application in cases with juvenile defendants. She also spoke generally about the ongoing trial of Philip Chism, 16, who is accused of rape and murder and who, the defense argues, suffers from severe mental illness. In an interview with Susan Zalkind, Dr. Edersheim notes:

“The law has an insanity standard that is premised on an examination of behavior. Is this person at the moment of this offense behaving in a folk-psychology way that indicates that he or she has a defect of reason or volition, an inability to control themselves, or an inability to think reasonably? You could ask those same questions of juveniles or adults.

The more complicated answer is philosophical moral and neuroscientific. Adolescents are so different [from adults] that we ought to have different standards for them in light of the emerging adolescent neuroscience and how that intersects the moral underpinnings of law.”

Read the rest of the piece from VICE, “An Expert Explains the Complexities and Confusion of Insanity Defenses for Juvenile Killers”, by Susan Zalkind, published November 20, 2015.