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 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 In an unpublished opinion, the court rejected Jones’s argument ruling that Miller facially does not apply to those over the age of 18.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

23 year old proffers brain science to challenge his life sentence

Citation: People v. Suggs, 2020 IL App (2d) 170632

Summary: Defendant Montago E. Suggs was sentenced to 110 years in prison in 2007 after being found guilty of first degree murder, attempted murder, and attempted armed robbery in the state of Illinois. Suggs was 23 years old at the time he committed his crimes. The defendant filed for post-conviction relief in the trial court on the grounds his sentence violated the 8th amendment of the U.S. Constitution. In a 2012 court case, Miller v Alabama, the Supreme Court ruled that even juveniles convicted of homicide cannot be automatically sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. Suggs argued that because emerging brain science suggests that the brain continues developing until someone’s mid twenties, Miller should also be applied to Suggs’ case. The trial court denied his application, and on this appeal, the Illinois Appellate Court affirmed the denial, holding that Suggs did not “exhibit signature qualities of youth that require juveniles to be treated differently from adults” and, therefore, upheld Sugg’s sentence.

Key words: Eighth Amendment, Miller v. Alabama, adolescent brain science, emerging adults, Illinois