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

MA state lawmaker urges action on elder abuse

By Jenifer McKim | New England Center for Investigate Reporting | October 31, 2014

A state lawmaker is urging Bay State officials to do more to help the growing number of exploited and abused elders in Massachusetts.

Rep. James O’ Day, a Worcester Democrat and chair of the House Elder Affairs Committee, said colleagues should act on a recent state report that documented the rising risks to seniors, especially financial exploitation suffered by women who are 80 years old and older.

The report, by the 19-member Elder Protective Services Commission, laid out a blueprint to help seniors, including better training of people who work with elders and an awareness campaign to educate the public about the potential for abuse. Continue reading »

Mass. House OKs parole for juvenile killers

By Laura Crimaldi and Travis Andersen | The Boston Globe | June 18, 2014

The state House of Representatives on Wednesday passed a bill that would make juveniles convicted in Massachusetts of first-degree murder eligible for parole after serving between 20 and 30 years of their sentence.

The measure, which now goes to the state Senate, passed by a margin of 128-16, according to House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo’s office.

“As public servants our most pressing responsibility is ensuring the safety of the public,” DeLeo said in a statement Wednesday. “Following state and federal court actions, the House felt it was necessary to create a strong framework for protecting our residents while accounting for the special circumstances associated with juvenile offenders. I am grateful for the input from the many committed organizations, families and legislators who helped craft this fair and balanced bill.” Continue reading »

After Horton case, Massachusetts fell behind on criminal justice

By Nancy Gertner | The Boston Globe | May 18, 2014

Anyone of a certain age remembers Willie Horton. Furloughed in 1986 from a life sentence for murder, Horton, who is black, raped a white woman and assaulted her fiancé. But Horton’s legacy extends beyond the horrific crime he committed.

Many have blamed Governor Michael Dukakis’s failed presidential bid that year on publicity surrounding the case. Less often discussed is how far Horton’s crime set back criminal justice reform in Massachusetts — and still does to this day.

We like to think of Massachusetts as a progressive state, and it was on crime, too — until Horton. Indeed, except for our prohibition of the death penalty, there is little to set us apart from the Southern states that many in the Commonwealth consider overly punitive. Mississippi, Texas, Arkansas, Georgia, and South Carolina have all gone farther to reduce prison populations than Massachusetts. Horton’s shadow persists, silencing politicians who would be smart on crime rather than mindlessly tough. Continue reading »

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 »