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

Dr. Robert Kinscherff Answers: Should We Ever Sentence Juveniles as Adults? (VIDEO)

CLBB Faculty Member Dr. Robert Kinscherff spoke on Tuesday, May 10, at Harvard Law School about juvenile justice and the treatment of adolescents versus adults within the criminal justice system. The event, hosted by the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race & Justice, was free and open to the public. About the event:

Nearly a quarter of a million youth are tried, sentenced, or imprisoned as adults every year across the United States. On any given day, ten thousand youth are detained or incarcerated in adult jails and prisons.

Putting a human face to these sobering statistics, Boy With A Knife tells the story of Karter Kane Reed, who, at the age of sixteen, was sentenced to life in an adult prison for a murder he committed in 1993 in a high school classroom. Twenty years later, in 2013, he became one of the few men in Massachusetts to sue the Parole Board and win his freedom.

The emotional and devastating narrative takes us step by step through Karter’s crime, trial, punishment, and survival in prison, as well as his readjustment into regular society. In addition to being a powerful portrayal of one boy trying to come to terms with the consequences of his tragic actions, Boy With A Knife is also a searing critique of the practice of sentencing youth to adult prisons, providing a wake-up call on how we must change the laws in this country that allow children to be sentenced as adults. Continue reading »

WATCH – “Visible Solutions: How Neuroimaging Helps Law Re-envision Pain”

On June 30, 2015, CLBB and the Petrie-Flom Center hosted a public symposium bringing together the leading experts in neuroscience and law to wrestle with the critical question: what can, and should, the law do with what we know about pain and the brain? To answer this, panelists discussed whether brain imaging can be a “pain-o-meter” that tells courts when a person is in pain, if fMRI technologies can help give us a new perspective on intractable chronic pain, and how to understand the intimate relationship between pain and emotion, if there even is such a distinction. Together, experts and audience members explored how the law can use brain science to get smarter about a subject that touches everyone.  Continue reading »

Nancy Gertner receives the Margaret Brent Lawyers of Achievement Award

CLBB Faculty and Harvard Law School Professor of Practice Nancy Gertner has been selected as a recipient of the 2014 Margaret Brent Women Lawyers of Achievement Award, established by the ABA Commission on the Status of Women in the Profession. Continue reading »

CLBB and Harvard Law School announce “Joint Venture in Law and Neuroscience;” Pain Fellow

306115_10150591296547062_163009943_nNeuroscience is rapidly increasing our understanding of human behavior. As our understanding grows, so should the law and policy which is concerned with these behaviors. New neuroscientific knowledge has many imminent implications for the legal realm, including questions of responsibility, memory, and the role of neuroscientific evidence in the courtroom.

With already-established programs in seminal areas at the intersection of law and neuroscience, including criminal responsibility, lie detection, financial decision making, and memory, CLBB looks forward to producing scholarship in a new program area, pain & suffering.

Beginning Fall 2014, CLBB and the Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law, Biotechnology, and Bioethics at Harvard Law School will launch a joint “Project on Law and Applied Neuroscience.” The collaboration, which will extend through 2016, will include a Senior Fellow-in-residence, research and public symposia devoted to a specific issue at the intersection of neuroscience and law, and a Law and Neuroscience Seminar taught at Harvard Law School by the Hon. Nancy Gertner. Amanda Pustilnik, JD will be the Project’s first Senior Fellow in Law & Applied Neuroscience, in 2014-2015, focusing on scholarship on the role of pain in legal domains.

Pustilnik is currently a Professor of Law at the University of Maryland School of Law and a CLBB faculty member. In Cambridge, Pustilnik will pursue research, mentoring, and public engagement related to issues of pain and the law. Pustilnik will also be involved in the execution of expert symposia and public events to promote focused discussion on questions at the intersection of pain, addictions, and the law.

Professor Nancy Gertner’s Law and Neuroscience Seminar will introduce students to this complex and growing translational field. The Hon. Gertner is a member of Harvard Law, Petrie-Flom, and CLBB Faculty. The course will be cross-listed for Harvard Medical School students, and will draw on HLS and CLBB’s interdisciplinary legal and scientific faculty.

For more on the Petrie-Flom Center, see their website and bioethics blog.

The press release is available here.