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.

Nancy Gertner: “My Drug War Sentences were ‘Unfair and Disproportionate'”

CLBB faculty member Nancy Gertner was featured in The Atlantic for her remarks on the Drug War at the 2015 Aspen Ideas Festival. Speaking from her 17 years of experience as a federal judge, Gertner likened the damage done by the drug war to the destruction of cities in World War II. From the article:

Among 500 sanctions that [Gertner] handed down, “80 percent I believe were unfair and disproportionate,” she said. “I left the bench in 2011 to join the Harvard faculty to write about those stories––to write about how it came to pass that I was obliged to sentence people to terms that, frankly, made no sense under any philosophy.”

“This is a war that I saw destroy lives,” she said. “It eliminated a generation of African American men, covered our racism in ostensibly neutral guidelines and mandatory minimums… and created an intergenerational problem––although I wasn’t on the bench long enough to see this, we know that the sons and daughters of the people we sentenced are in trouble, and are in trouble with the criminal justice system.”

Read the full piece from The Atlantic, Federal Judge: My Drug War Sentences were ‘Unfair and Disproportionate,'” by Conor Friedersdorf, published June 29, 2015.