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.

Neuroscience and Criminal Law: The Post-Jones Landscape for Late Adolescents and Emerging Adults

 February 09, 2022, 12:30 PM

Watch the recording here!

Event Description

The U.S. Supreme Court landmark case of Roper v. Simmons (2005) barring execution for crimes committed prior to age 18 launched a line of cases extending Eighth Amendment protections for juveniles. These cases clearly established that children are not little adults. The April 2021 SCOTUS decision in Jones v. Mississippi appears to signal a shift from federal constitutional cases to litigation and legislation among the states. This has prompted vigorous debate about how science should inform criminal law and policy regarding late teens and emerging adults and sharpens ongoing controversy about how developmental science is or should be applied to those under 18. This panel surveys the current landscape of cases and legislation focused on crafting developmentally aligned frameworks for responding to misconduct by younger adolescents, late adolescents (ages 18 – 20) and emerging adults (21 – 25), including “raising the age” of full criminal culpability past age 18. The contributions of neuroscience to informing a developmentally aligned jurisprudence for late adolescents and emerging adults will be reviewed.


  • Introduction: Carmel Shachar, Executive Director, Petrie-Flom Center
  • Honorable Jay Blitzman (ret.), CLBB Affiliated Faculty and Lecturer, Harvard Law School, Northeastern Law School, and Boston College Law School
  • Lael Chester, JD, Director of the Emerging Adult Justice Project at Columbia University’s Justice Lab
  • Stephanie Tabashneck, PsyD, JD, Senior Fellow in Law and Applied Neuroscience, CLBB and the Petrie-Flom Center

This event is part of the Project on Law and Applied Neuroscience, a collaboration between the Center for Law, Brain and Behavior at Massachusetts General Hospital and the Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics at Harvard Law School.