News and Commentary Archive

Explore recent scientific discoveries and news as well as CLBB events, commentary, and press.


The Center for Law, Brain & Behavior puts the most accurate and actionable neuroscience in the hands of judges, lawyers, policymakers and journalists—people who shape the standards and practices of our legal system and affect its impact on people’s lives. We work to make the legal system more effective and more just for all those affected by the law.

19-year-old Defendant is Denied Appeal After Court Declines To Extend Miller

Citation: People v. Price, 2017 IL App (1st) 14-3392-U

Summary: In 2012, 19-year-old defendant Jarron Price was found guilty of armed violence and sentenced to a mandatory minimum of 15 years imprisonment in the state of Illinois. Price appealed on the grounds that his sentencing violated the Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, as well as the proportionate penalties clause of the Illinois constitution. Price argued that the imposition of a 15-year minimum sentence for his crimes did not take into account the “transient signature qualities of his youth.” His counsel argued that although he was 19 at the time offense, and thus under the law considered an adult, the age of 19 is “purely arbitrary.” They argued that Price was more similar to a juvenile than an adult and that therefore Price’s age should have been taken into account when imposing his sentence. 

         The court denied his appeal based primarily on the grounds that unlike Miller, who was facing a life-sentence, Price’s sentence was 15 years and therefore did not fall under “most severe of all criminal penalties.” Additionally, while the court acknowledged the claim that a 19 year-old is in many ways similar to a 17-year old, the court observed that “until [the Illinois Supreme Court] addresses the application of juvenile sentencing to adult defendants, [the Court] is not at liberty to extend the rationale of Miller, Roper, Graham and Reyes to an adult defendant.” Therefore, the court upheld Price’s sentence.

Key words: Eighth Amendment, Miller v. Alabama, mandatory minimum, emerging adults, Illinois

TED MED Talk: Every Story Is A Brain Story

Boston, MA | September 2020 

CLBB Executive Director Francis Shen’s TED MED 2020 talk — Why Every Story is a Brain Story — is now available for viewing online. In this talk Dr. Shen explores how neuroscience can transform the law. TED MED 2020’s theme was “Make Way for Wonder” and Dr. Shen commented: When I make way for wonder, I see the law and the legal system not as they are, but as they can become.

Click here to view the full video.

19-year-old Denied Resentencing in light of Miller

Citation: State v. Jones, 2020 WL 3055646 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. May 12, 2020)

Summary: In 1995, Rashon Jones (19-years-old at the time of offense), was convicted of murder and aggravated assault in connection to the death of a former girlfriend. Jones was convicted on these charges for beating his girlfriend to death and was sentenced to life in prison with a 30-year period of parole ineligibility, and a concurrent 10-year sentence (with 5 years of parole ineligibility) on the aggravated assault charges.  Jones argued on appeal that his sentence should be vacated and he should be granted a resentencing in light of the neuroscience that underpins Miller, the landmark 2012 Supreme Court case that established special sentencing protections for juveniles. Jones argued that the brain of a 19-year-old was not functionally distinct from that of younger adolescents and as such, the relevant science should be applied in his case. In an unpublished opinion, the court rejected Jones’s argument ruling that Miller facially does not apply to those over the age of 18.  Additionally, the court held the age cutoff aside, Jones’s 35-year minimum sentence was not the functional equivalent of life without the possibility of parole. The appellate court affirmed the decision of the lower court to deny resentencing.

Key words: New Jersey, sentencing, LWOP, Miller v. Alabama, adolescent brain science

MGH Center for Law, Brain, and Behavior: Neuroanatomy of a False Confession

Sept. 17, 2020, 7:00-8:30pm EDT

On Thursday, September 17 2020 at 7pm Eastern, CLBB Founder and Co-Director Judith G. Edersheim, JD, MD, will present “Neuroanatomy of a False Confession,” sponsored by the Boston Society of Neurology, Neurosurgery, & Psychiatry and co-sponsored by the MGH Center for Law, Brain and Behavior. To access the virtual meeting please click here, and to register for the event, please click here