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

UN expert slams US as only nation to imprison kids for life without parole

By Natasja Sheriff | Al-Jazeera America | 9 March 2015

NEW YORK — The United States was singled out Monday by a United Nations expert on torture for being the only country in the world that continues to sentence children to life in prison without parole.

“The vast majority of states have taken note of the international human rights requirements regarding life imprisonment of children without the possibility of release,” Juan Méndez, the United Nations special rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment, said in his report, before noting that the United States is the only country to continue the practice. Continue reading »

Arkansas court keeps life sentence for juvenile

By Chuck Bartels | Associated Press/San Francisco Gate | May 15, 2014

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — The Arkansas Supreme Court sustained a sentence on Thursday of life in prison without parole for a man who was 17 when he took part in a West Memphis killing, but the man’s lawyer said some pending cases might still clear the way for a new sentencing hearing.

The high court granted a state appeal of a circuit court ruling that had ordered a new sentence for Ulonzo Gordon, 37, who was convicted in the 1994 slaying of Otis Webster. Prosecutors said Gordon and another man shot at Webster in retaliation for the shooting of a different man. Continue reading »

Juvenile Law Center

The Juvenile Law Center’s initiatives include minimizing court and systems involvement, promoting fairness in the courts, improving outcomes for court-ordered youth, and ensuring access to services and opportunities. Founded in 1975 and the oldest non-profit, public interest law firm for children in the United States, the Juvenile Law Center has become a national advocate for children’s rights, working across the country to enforce and promote the rights and well-being of children who come into contact with the justice, child welfare and other public systems.

Through litigation, appellate advocacy and submission of amicus (friend-of-the-court) briefs, policy reform, public education, training, and strategic communications, the Juvenile Law Center strives to ensure that laws, policies, and practices affecting youth are rooted in research, consistent with children’s unique developmental characteristics, and reflective of international human rights values.

Explore the Juvenile Law Center’s online resources here.

Locking up kids for life?

By Davide Bonazzi for the Boston Globe

Three decades ago, Edward Palmariello, 17, and his 21-year-old friend Bruce Chambers were arrested in the murder of Edward’s mother, Marion. Then a defense attorney, I represented Edward at trial. The jury found both men guilty and the sentence was mandatory — life in prison without any possibility of parole.

In most countries, Edward’s sentence would have been impossible. Juvenile life without parole is prohibited by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child , a measure that has been ratified by every UN nation except the United States and Somalia (Somalia announced in November that it will ratify). Edward has spent the past 32 years in jail. He had no hope, no future. Perhaps, until now.

Continue reading »

SJC decision could change handling of juvenile offenders

By Milton Valencia and John Ellement | The Boston Globe | December 27, 2013

This week’s Supreme Judicial Court decision opening the door to parole for teenagers convicted of murder will force a major examination of the way the state tries, sentences, and attempts to rehabilitate them, according to legal analysts.

In its Tuesday decision, Massachusetts’ highest court called on the state to quickly create a “new, constitutional sentencing scheme for juveniles convicted of homicide crimes.”

“We have to look at our system and figure out where we make it work in a way that has meaningful accountability, but looks at kids in a meaningful way, and addresses the fact that they are kids,” said Naoka Carey, executive director of Citizens for Juvenile Justice, a nonprofit research and advocacy group based in Massachusetts, in a phone interview Thursday. Continue reading »