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

Out of Detention: How to Stop the School-to-Prison Pipeline

By Olivia Herrington | Harvard Political Review | 2 March 2015

A single instance of incarceration in a young person’s life increases the risk of future imprisonment, at a cost to taxpayers of $240.99 per day. Living in jail worsens the mental, emotional, and behavioral problems with which these children and adolescents must struggle. And mental disorders and youth incarceration already share an alarmingly strong link. As James Barrett, a psychologist at the Cambridge Health Alliance and in Harvard Medical School’s Department of Psychiatry, said in an interview with the HPR, a “massive overlap” exists between the two groups. While just 20 percent of all American youth live with one or more mental disorders, that proportion jumps to 70 percent for the juvenile justice population. Continue reading »

Working group to tackle juvenile brain & justice system

Beginning in summer 2014, as part of a venture into juvenile justice as an ongoing program area, CLBB convened a faculty juvenile justice working group to bring together experts in the adolescent brain and criminal justice to respond to key ethical and legal issues at their intersections. The groups, drawing from the Harvard Law and Medical Schools and Harvard University Psychology Faculty, will convene for ongoing expert faculty meetings, academic publications, and a public seminar event. The group is supported by the Harvard Mind Brain Behavior Interfaculty Initiative. View the initial announcement here.

CLBB Faculty and working group members include adolescent brain researchers Leah Somerville, PhD and Margaret Sheridan, PhD, adolescent psychiatrist Gene Beresin, MD, and juvenile offender evaluation and juvenile justice policy experts Thomas Grisso, PhD, Robert Kinscherff, PhD, Esq., and Gina Vincent, PhD.

The group will culminate its first year with a public Symposium on Juvenile Justice on Thursday, March 12, 2015. The Symposium will take place at the Joseph B. Martin Conference Center of Harvard Medical School. View event details and RSVP.

 

Landmark Legislative Trends in Juvenile Justice: An Update and Primer for Child and Adolescent Psychiatrists

By Eraka Bath, MD, Shawn Sidhu, MD, and Sofia Stepanyan, BA | July 2013 | Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry

Over the past decade, a series of U.S. Supreme Court cases have enhanced the legal rights for youth involved in the juvenile and criminal justice systems. These cases, considered landmark cases in psychiatry and the law, reflect an evolving understanding of the interplay among culpability, neurocognitive development, and adolescent behavior. Fortunately, these legislative trends represent significant gains in improving due-process protections for juveniles and have shifted the pendulum toward a more neurodevelopmental approach in thinking about culpability and rehabilitation in young offenders, a vulnerable population with high levels of psychiatric morbidity. Continue reading »