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

Hard Time Gets a Hard Look by Judge Nancy Gertner

The Harvard Gazette covers a new Harvard Law School course led by CLBB’s Judge Nancy Gertner (ret.), which approaches the problem of mass incarceration from interdisciplinary perspectives. The course, also co-taught by Harvard sociologist Bruce Western and Vincent Schiraldi of Harvard Kennedy School, examines the origins of U.S. mass incarceration and helps students generate solutions to the issue. About the course and faculty, Judge Gertner notes:

“Each of us in different ways has been teaching and working on the problem of criminal justice policy. We thought there would be some unique value in bringing together three perspectives: the social science on problems of crime and criminal justice, the perspective of policy research and analysis, and law.

None of us ever believed that we would be in a world in which people are talking about reducing incarceration and letting people out of prison…. the discussion goes from the abstract to the concrete.”

About her experience with the problem of mass incarceration and commitment to resolving it, she comments on her time as a federal judge:

“Eighty percent of sentences that I was obliged to impose in drug cases were unjust, disproportionate, and inequitable, she told the class of working as judge within a strict sentencing framework ushered in by the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984. After retiring in 2011, she embarked “on a trajectory of wanting to know more,” she said, and pressing for change.

Read the full article, “Hard Time Gets a Hard Look”, by Colleen Walsh, published by the Harvard Gazette on November 29, 2016.

WATCH — Boys to Men to Boys

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Click poster to enlarge.

Approximately 2,000 youth sentenced to life without parole are now serving unconstitutional sentences in US prisons. What is the role for psychology and neuroscience in re-sentencing and parole after Miller and Montgomery?

Join two experts in forensic psychology, law and juvenile justice policy, for a discussion of the dilemmas posed after the Supreme Court’s recent decision to ban mandatory life without possibility of parole for juvenile homicides (Miller v. Alabama, 2012) and then this year to retroactively apply this decision to some 2,000 incarcerated individuals (Montgomery v. Louisiana, 2016).

The event will be held at 12:00 pm on Wednesday, April 13, in Wasserstein Hall, Milstein East C (2036) at Harvard Law School (1585 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA).

This event is free and open to the public. Lunch will be served.

Continue reading »

WATCH: “Raising the Age of Juvenile Court in Connecticut”

During a speech in November at the University of Connecticut Law School, Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy proposed that his state raise the age of juvenile court jurisdiction through age 20, and that a separate process be developed for handing cases for defendants and offenders under the age of 25.

His proposal mirrors recommendations by Harvard Kennedy School researchers, and if enacted, would make Connecticut the first state in US history to raise the age of juvenile, or family, court jurisdiction beyond age 18.

Join the Program in Criminal Justice Policy and Management at Harvard Kennedy School on Monday evening, January 25, 2016 at 6:30 in Wiener Auditorium for A Conversation with Dannel P. Malloy on Raising the Age of Juvenile Court in Connecticut’, moderated by Vincent Schiraldi, and hear why Gov. Malloy proposed to raise the age of family court to 21.

Featuring

Event Details

  • Monday, January 25, 2015 – 6:30 PM
  • Harvard Kennedy School | Wiener Auditorium, Taubman Building, Ground Floor 
    79 JFK Street, Cambridge | Directions

About this Event

This event is sponsored by the Program in Criminal Justice Policy and Management (HKS), MGH Center for Law, Brain & Behavior, the Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy (HKS), the Criminal Justice Program of Study, Research & Advocacy (HLS), and the student-led Criminal Justice Professional Interest Council (HKS). Continue reading »

What Mass Incarceration Looks Like for Juveniles

By Vincent Schiraldi | The New York Times | November 10, 2015

After two decades of researching mass incarceration — and advocating for its demise — I decided in 2005 to take more direct action and accepted a job running corrections departments, first in Washington, D.C., then in New York City. It was a rude awakening. Continue reading »