The brain is developed through an ongoing process that begins during pregnancy and continues into early adulthood. The foundations of the brain begin to form between birth and five years of age as a child sees, feels, tastes, hears, and smells. Seven hundred new neural connectors are formed every second during a child’s first years. This forms the sturdy foundation that will affect the learning, health, and behaviors that follow.
The process of pruning begins after this initial period of rapid proliferation. During pruning, neural connections are reduced, cause brain circuits to become more efficient. Then, sensory pathways, such as basic vision and hearing, develop. Next, the development of early language skills and higher cognitive functions begins. These connections proliferate and prune in a specific, beginning with basic function and then moving on to more complex brain circuits built upon earlier, simpler circuits.
A close relationship between the child and the caregiver is the best way to nourish the child’s growing brain. Young children learn by interactions with adults—the children babble and make facial expressions and gestures, while the adult responds with similar vocalizations and gestures. In the absence of such responses—or if the responses are unreliable or inappropriate—the brain’s architecture does not form as expected, which can lead to disparities in learning and behavior.
Brain development can also be impaired by chronic or unrelenting stress that occurs in early childhood from events such as poverty, abuse, or sever maternal depression. Positive stressors are important and necessary for typical development; however, toxic stress can caused damaged neurons that will inadequately shape the developing brain.
Why Your Client’s Early Childhood Matters – Dr. Sarah Vinson, M.D.
A discussion of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and their long-term adverse outcomes.
Competency and Adolescent Brain Development – Dr. Randy Otto, Ph.D.
In this session, Dr. Randy Otto, Ph.D., ABPP, will discuss competence to proceed in juvenile delinquency proceedings. Topics will include constitutional requirements, Florida law, how adolescent brain development affects competency, the evaluation process, and how to read reports and question examiners.
Using Adolescent Brain Science to Inform Reliable Sentencing Outcomes – Roseanne Eckert
The United States Supreme Court held in Graham v. Florida (2010) and Miller v. Alabama (2012) that children may not be sentenced to life without parole without taking in consideration the unique characteristics of youth. The outcomes in these cases were informed by the research in adolescent development suggesting that teens are not as culpable due to their impulsivity, vulnerability to peer pressure, and their capacity for change. In this training, Roseanne Eckert, the Coordinating Attorney for the Florida Juvenile Resentencing and Review Project at the Florida International University College of Law, explains on the brain science can inform reliable sentencing outcomes.
“How Childhood Trauma Affects Health Across a Lifetime” by Nadine Burke Harris, TEDMED (2014)
Abstract: In this TED Talk, pediatrician Nadine Burke Harris explains that the repeated stress of abuse, neglect, and parents struggling with mental health or substance abuse issues has real, tangible effects on the development of the brain. This unfolds across a lifetime, to the point where those who’ve experienced high levels of trauma are at triple the risk for heart disease and lung cancer. An impassioned plea for pediatric medicine to confront the prevention and treatment of trauma, head-on. Watch the full TED Talk or read the transcript.
“Minor is Major: How Adolescent Brain and Behavior Development Can Affect Competency, Culpability and Other Determinations in Criminal Court” by Cathryn S. Crawford, NACDL 2016 Mid-Winter Meeting. Download the presentation.
40 Developmental Assets
The Search Institute identified the 40 building blocks necessary for healthy development—known as Developmental Assets—that help young children grow up healthy, caring, and responsible. This particular list is intended for adolescents (age 12-18).
Teenage Brain Development: Its Impact on Criminal Activity and Trial Sentencing
Gretchen M. Colón-Fuentes, Teenage Brain Development: Its Impact on Criminal Activity and Trial Sentencing, 88 Rev. Jur. U.P.R. 1062 (2019).
“Minor is Major: How Adolescent Braind and Behavior Development Can Affect Competency, Culpability and Other Determinations in Criminal Court” by Cathryn S. Crawford, NACDL 2016 Mid-Winter Meeting. Download the presentation.
SCIENTIFIC PAPERS AND ARTICLES
Neuroimaging and Neurolaw: Drawing the Future of Aging
Vincenzo Tigano, Giuseppe Cascini, Cristina Sanchez-Castañeda, Patrice Péran & Umberto Sabatini, Neuroimaging and Neurolaw: Drawing the Future of Aging, Frontiers in Endocrinology (2019).
Abstract: Human brain-aging is a complex, multidimensional phenomenon. Knowledge of the numerous aspects that revolve around it is therefore essential if not only the medical issues, but also the social, psychological, and legal issues related to this phenomenon are to be managed correctly. In the coming decades, it will be necessary to find solutions to the management of the progressive aging of the population so as to increase the number of individuals that achieve successful aging. The aim of this article is to provide a current overview of the physiopathology of brain aging and of the role and perspectives of neuroimaging in this context. The progressive development of neuroimaging has opened new perspectives in clinical and basic research and it has modified the concept of brain aging. Neuroimaging will play an increasingly important role in the definition of the individual’s brain aging in every phase of the physiological and pathological process. However, when the process involved in age-related brain cognitive diseases is being investigated, factors that might affect this process on a clinical and behavioral level (genetic susceptibility, risks factors, endocrine changes) cannot be ignored but must, on the contrary, be integrated into a neuroimaging evaluation to ensure a correct and global management, and they are therefore discussed in this article. Neuroimaging appears important to the correct management of age-related brain cognitive diseases not only within a medical perspective, but also legal, according to a wider approach based on development of relationship between neuroscience and law. The term neurolaw, the neologism born from the relationship between these two disciplines, is an emerging field of study, that deals with various issues in the impact of neurosciences on individual rights. Neuroimaging, enhancing the detection of physiological and pathological brain aging, could give an important contribution to the field of neurolaw in elderly where the full control of cognitive and volitional functions is necessary to maintain a whole series of rights linked to legal capacity. For this reason, in order to provide the clinician and researcher with a broad view of the brain-aging process, the role of neurolaw will be introduced into the brain-aging context.
Class in the Classroom: Poverty, Policies, and Practices Impeding Education
Christine Chambers Goodman, Class in the Classroom: Poverty, Policies, and Practices Impeding Education, 27 J. Gender, Soc. Pol’y & L. 95 (2019).
Abstract: Part I of this Article begins with social science evidence to justify the combination approach of “equally adequate” education. It describes the data on the impact of SES on brain development. Part I also addresses the impacts of one’s physical environment, including the levels of poverty, crime, educational opportunity, housing, upward mobility, and stress in neighborhoods on educational outcomes. It then considers some potential counterarguments and poses questions that can guide social scientists in further research. Part II describes the constitutional protections for education and the state court litigation around those issues, concurring with the conclusion of others who believe that the key point of the constitutional right is to provide an education sufficient to participate in democratic processes of the nation. This section addresses the constitutional arguments around education and adequacy versus equality, recent cases putting forth these arguments, and their status. Part III briefly addresses the federal legislation, namely the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), which has subsequently been revised and renamed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). To the extent data is available, this Article will examine how ESSA is working (relative to NCLB), as well as whether it is making progress for students in states who promote either equal or adequate education. Thus far, there is little data about application because the states only recently submitted their plans, and so this part focuses on the ESSA’s goals and shortfalls, and then looks at the plans put into place by several states. Part III will then highlight the adequacy and equality litigation currently and recently pending in selected states. The Article concludes with several proposals for future consideration by courts, policymakers, and legislatures.
Kimberly Thomas, Reckless Juveniles, 52 U.C. Davis L. Rev. 1665 (2019).
Abstract: Modern doctrine and scholarship largely take it for granted that offenders should be criminally punished for reckless acts.1 Yet, developments in our understanding of human behavior can shed light on how we define and attribute criminal liability, or at least force us to grapple with the categories that have existed for so long.
This Article examines recklessness and related doctrines in light of the shifts in understanding of adolescent behavior and its biological roots, to see what insights we might attain, or what challenges these understandings pose to this foundational mens rea doctrine. Over the past decade, the U.S. Supreme Court has concluded that youth are categorically different for purposes of criminal sentencing, and that these categorical differences in maturity, ability to make reasoned decisions, resist outside pressure and influences and the like lead to objective lines being drawn between youth and adults. The Court’s distinctions have drawn on a significant body of research literature, including brain imaging scans that help us understand the maturation of the human brain over the course of adolescence.
This Article posits that these developments, when mapped onto existing criminal law, call into question holding youth responsible for offenses that require actual foresight of the consequences of their risky behavior. Instead, the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent analyses of the categorical differences between youth and adults in the criminal realm,2 as well as the science and social science research underlying *1668 these differences, wears away– for this category of individuals–the basis for holding youth in juvenile or adult court accountable for crimes of “foresight” and express disregard for risk.
Adolescents’ Cognitive Capacity Reaches Adult Levels Prior to Their Psychosocial Maturity: Evidence for a “Maturity Gap” in a Multinational, Cross-Sectional Sample
Grace Icenogle, Laurence Steinberg, Natasha Duell, Jason Chein, Lei Chang, Nandita Chaudhary, Laura Di Giunta, Kenneth A. Dodge, Kostas A. Fanti, Jennifer E. Lansford, Paul Oburu, Concetta Pastorelli, Ann T. Skinner, Emma Sorbring, Sombat Tapanya, Liliana M. Uribe Tirado, Liane P. Alampay, Suha M. Al-Hassan, Hanan M.S. Takash & Dario Bacchini, Adolescents’ Cognitive Capacity Reaches Adult Levels Prior to their Psychosocial Maturity: Evidence for a “maturity gap” in a Multinational, Cross-Sectional Sample, 43(1) L. & Hum. Behav. (2019).
Abstract: All countries distinguish between minors and adults for various legal purposes. Recent U.S. Supreme Court cases concerning the legal status of juveniles have consulted psychological science to decide where to draw these boundaries. However, little is known about the robustness of the relevant research, because it has been conducted largely in the U.S. and other Western countries. To the extent that lawmakers look to research to guide their decisions, it is important to know how generalizable the scientific conclusions are. The present study examines 2 psychological phenomena relevant to legal questions about adolescent maturity: cognitive capacity, which undergirds logical thinking, and psychosocial maturity, which comprises individuals’ ability to restrain themselves in the face of emotional, exciting, or risky stimuli. Age patterns of these constructs were assessed in 5,227 individuals (50.7% female), ages 10-30 (M = 17.05, SD = 5.91) from 11 countries. Importantly, whereas cognitive capacity reached adult levels around age 16, psychosocial maturity reached adult levels beyond age 18, creating a “maturity gap” between cognitive and psychosocial development. Juveniles may be capable of deliberative decision making by age 16, but even young adults may demonstrate “immature” decision making in arousing situations. We argue it is therefore reasonable to have different age boundaries for different legal purposes: 1 for matters in which cognitive capacity predominates, and a later 1 for matters in which psychosocial maturity plays a substantial role. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved).
The Developing Brain: New Directions in Science, Policy, and Law
Susan Frelich Appleton, Deanna M. Barch & Anneliese M. Schaefer, The Developing Brain: New Directions in Science, Policy, and Law, 57 Wash. U. J. L. & Pol’y 1 (2018).
Abstract: Scientific findings on brain development increasingly are influencing how we understand children’s social and emotional development and how we interpret their behavior. Such understandings and interpretations, in turn, can shape public policy and legal precedent. For example, brain imaging has complemented behavioral studies on cognitive development, with functional and structural imaging showing protracted maturation of the prefrontal cortex, a region that strongly contributes to higher-order
cognitive processing, often called “executive function.” Findings on this delayed maturation provided the basis for three separate rulings by the United States Supreme Court, setting aside certain sentences for criminal offenses committed by juveniles as “cruel and unusual punishment” inviolation of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments of the Constitution. In each of these cases, a majority of the Justices determined that juvenile offenders must be treated differently from adults with respect to criminal sentencing for two reasons. First, based on the immature status of their brains, juveniles deserve more lenient sanctions than adult offenders. Second, time itself will allow adolescent brains to mature, reducing the need for punitive interventions to accomplish rehabilitation and reform.
The Ingredients of Health Brain and Child Development
Pat Levitt & Kathie L. Eagleson, The Ingredients of Healthy Brain and Child Development, 57 Wash. U. J. L. & Pol’y 75 (2018).
Abstract: This review explains why “early” matters when it comes to brain and child development. Early is a critical concept that I and others have presented to policy makers and business leaders throughout the country. Early typically includes the prenatal and the first three years after birth. Here we focus on the early postnatal period. In addition, the adolescent period represents a distinct epoch of developmental changes. Positive development of children provides a strong foundation for healthy and competent adulthood, responsible citizenship, economic productivity, strong communities, and a just and fair society. Below, we discuss the foundational principles of brain development that underlie why this is the case.
Addressing the Psychosocial Risk Factors Affecting the Developing Brain of the High-Risk Infant
Cynthia Rogers, Addressing the Psychosocial Risk Factors Affecting the Developing Brain of the High-Risk Infant, 57 Wash. U. J. L. & Pol’y 117 (2018).
Abstract: The psychological and socio-demographic characteristics of the caregiver, commonly referred to as psychosocial factors, are highly critical in shaping an infant’s brain development as they often influence the caregiver’s emotional state, stress responses, and overall mental health. Poverty is one of the most potent of these psychosocial factors. Poverty is associated with myriad other deleterious exposures and behaviors known to affect caregiver-infant interactions such as parental stress, psychiatric *118 illnesses, and substance abuse. These psychosocial stressors are experienced during both the prenatal and postnatal period and are often interconnected. When these stressors are experienced during pregnancy they work together to impact the development of the fetal brain. After birth, the neonatal brain continues to mature and is further impacted by the postnatal environment, which often includes continued exposure to a caregiver with these same psychosocial risks. The goal of this Article is to examine how exposure to these prenatal and postnatal stressors can lead to impaired development in children and how changes in our support of young infants and their caregivers during this period could help mitigate the risk of these adverse outcomes.
Brain Development, Social Context, and Justice Policy
Elizabeth Scott, Natasha Duell & Laurence Steinberg, Brain Development, Social Context, and Justice Policy, 57 Wash. U. J. L. & Pol’y 13 (2018).
Abstract: Justice policy reform in the past decade has been driven by research evidence indicating that brain development is ongoing through adolescence, and that neurological and psychological immaturity likely contributes in important ways to teenagers’ involvement in crime. But despite the power of this trend, skeptics point out that many (perhaps most) adolescents do not engage in serious criminal activity; on this basis, critics argue that normative biological and psychological factors associated with adolescence are unlikely to play the important role in juvenile offending that is posited by supporters of the reform trend. This Article explains that features associated with biological and psychological immaturity alone do not lead teenagers to engage in illegal conduct. Instead the decision to offend, like much risk-taking behavior in adolescence, is the product of dynamic interaction between the still-maturing individual and her social context. The Article probes the mechanisms through which particular tendencies and traits linked to adolescent brain development interact with environmental influences to encourage antisocial or prosocial behavior.
Damien A. Fair, Alice M. Graham & Brian Mills, A Role of Early Life Stress on Subsequent Brain and Behavioral Development, 57 Wash. U. J. L. & Pol’y 89 (2018).
Punishing Kids in Juvenile and Criminal Courts
Barry C. Feld, Punishing Kids in Juvenile and Criminal Courts, Crime & Just. (Forthcoming 2018).
Abstract: During the 1980s and 1990s, state lawmakers shifted juvenile justice policies from a nominally offender-oriented rehabilitative approach toward a more punitive and criminalized one. Pretrial detention and delinquency dispositions had disproportionate adverse effects on minority youths. Despite juvenile courts’ convergence with criminal courts, states provided fewer and less adequate procedural safeguards to delinquents than to adults. Developmental psychologists and policy analysts contend that adolescents’ compromised ability to exercise rights requires greater procedural safeguards. States’ transfer laws sent more and younger youths to criminal courts for prosecution as adults, emphasized offense seriousness over offender characteristics, and shifted discretion from judges conducting waiver hearings to prosecutors making charging decisions. Judges in criminal courts sentence youths similarly to adult offenders. The Supreme Court, relying on developmental psychology and neuroscience research, in Roper v. Simmons, Graham v. Florida, and Miller v. Alabama, emphasized adolescents’ diminished responsibility and limited the harshest sentences. However, the court provided states limited guidance on how to implement its decisions. Judicial and legislative responses inadequately acknowledge that “children are different.”
How Developmental Science Influences Juvenile Justice Reform
Elizabeth Cauffman, Adam Fine, Alisa Mahler, & Cortney Simmons, How Developmental Science Influences Juvenile Justice Reform, 8 UC Irvine L. Rev. 21 (2018).
Excerpt: Youth who commit crimes challenge society to think deeply about the nature of both adolescent development and justice. On the one hand, behavioral and neurological evidence show that youth are still developing their ability to regulate their behavior, to consider the consequences of their actions, and to resist peer pressure. From this developmental perspective, it is unsurprising that adolescence is a time of heightened risk taking and that the vast majority of youth simply age–or more precisely, psychosocially mature– out of these types of behaviors. On the other hand, a central tenant of our justice system is the belief that individuals who break the law deserve to be punished. To put it simply, if you did the crime, you should do the time. The question thus becomes, what should we do with adolescents who commit crimes? Are adolescents different from adults in ways that require different treatment under the law? If so, what developmental factors should be considered?
Invisible Stripes: The Problem of Youth Criminal Records
Judith G. McMullen, Invisible Stripes: The Problem of Youth Criminal Records, 27 S. Cal. Rev. L. & Soc. Just. 1(2018).
Abstract: It is common knowledge that persons with criminal records will have a more difficult path to obtaining legitimate employment. Similarly, conventional wisdom acknowledges the unfortunate fact that young people, on average, are more prone to engage in risky, impulsive, and other ill-advised behavior that might result in brushes with law enforcement. This article addresses the difficult situation faced by people who obtained a disabling criminal record before reaching the age of twenty-one. Not only do such individuals face stigma and possible discrimination from potential employers, the efforts of today’s young people to “go straight” are hampered by nearly unlimited online access to records of even the briefest of encounters with law enforcement, even if those encounters did not result in conviction. This article examines the broad scope and troubling effects of the intersection between policies attempting to “reform” youthful offenders, and policies giving any curious citizen access to records about a person’s youthful indiscretions, no matter how minor. The article concludes that current practices are inconsistent with 1) what we know about the development of young people; 2) developing U.S. Supreme Court jurisdiction; and 3) the social goal of rehabilitating youthful offenders. I conclude by suggesting more restricted access to and use of information about contact between young people and the criminal justice system.
Raise the Age Legislation: Developmentally Tailored Justice
Stephanie Tabashneck, “Raise the Age” Legislation: Developmentally Tailored Justice, 32 Just. 13 (2018).
Excerpt: This article will explore developmentally tailored justice and raise the age legislative initiatives. The article will begin with a brief overview of juvenile crime and a discussion of the implications of placing youth in adult criminal justice systems. Next, a review of scholarly advances in adolescent brain development and relevant Supreme Court decisions will be discussed. Lastly, raise the age legislative successes in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Illinois, and North Carolina will be explored, followed by legislative “flops” in Texas, Michigan, Georgia, Missouri, and Wisconsin.
Adolescent Brain Science and Juvenile Justice Policymaking
Steinberg, L. (2017). Adolescent brain science and juvenile justice policymaking. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 23(4), 410-420. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/law0000128.
Abstract: The American legal system’s thinking about the criminal culpability of juveniles has been radically transformed over the past 12 years, largely as a result of the introduction of developmental science into the United States Supreme Court’s deliberations about the appropriate sentencing of adolescents who have been convicted of the most serious crimes. The author examines the role that developmental science, and, especially, developmental neuroscience, has played in this policy transformation. After a brief overview of the Court’s rulings in 4 landmark cases decided between 2005 and 2016, he summarizes the relevant psychological and neurobiological evidence that likely guided the Court’s rulings. The author concludes with suggestions for future research and policy analysis, including (a) the study of developmental differences between adolescents and adults that have implications for their differential treatment under criminal law, with a particular focus on the neural underpinnings of these differences; (b) the study of the impact of variations in juvenile justice policy and practice on outcomes other than recidivism; and (c) the study of the financial costs and benefits of juvenile justice policy alternatives.
The Problem with Inference for Juvenile Defendant
Carroll, Jenny E., The Problem with Inference for Juvenile Defendants (April 21, 2017). Florida State University Law Review, Vol. 45, No. 1, Forthcoming.
Abstract: Much of criminal law relies on proof by inference. In criminal law, fact finders untangle not only what happened, but why it happened. It is answering the “why” question that places an act and its result on the legal spectrum of liability. To reach that answer, the fact finder must engage in an interpretive act, considering not only what can be seen or heard, but the significance of that testimony or physical evidence in real world contexts – the world in which they occurred but also the fact finder’s own world.
Recent developments in neuroscience suggest that in the context of juvenile defendants, this moment of interpretation is fraught with particular risks. The emergence of fMRI technology has provided significant insights into adolescent brain development and its effect on adolescent thought processes. As a result, scientists (and courts) recognize that adolescent actors are more likely to engage in risky behavior, fail to properly comprehend long term consequences and over value reward. In short, science has proven what most long suspected: kids think and react differently than do adults.
Although criminal law has long accounted for this difference procedurally – most evidently in the creation of an independent juvenile justice system – there has been little exploration of its significance in the realm of substantive criminal law. This Article argues that what is known of adolescent brain development suggests that adult fact finders are poorly positioned to accurately assess a juvenile defendant’s state of mind, because adults lack the perspective of those whose actions and words they seek to interpret – juvenile defendants. Rather than asking fact finders to perform the impossible task of placing themselves in the adolescent’s mind, substantive criminal law should instead acknowledge the difference in perspective and permit evidentiary presentation and jury instructions akin to defenses that rely on the defendant’s actual, as opposed to imagined, perspective.
Child Abuse – Nonaccidental Injury (NAI) and Abusive Head Trauma (AHT) – Medical Imaging: Issues and Controversies in the Era of Evidence-Based Medicine
Barnes, Patrick, Child Abuse – Nonaccidental Injury (NAI) and Abusive Head Trauma (AHT) – Medical Imaging: Issues and Controversies in the Era of Evidence-Based Medicine, 50 U. Mich. J.L. Reform 679 (2017).
Abstract: A look at nonaccidental injury and abusive head trauma in children with a focus on Shaken Baby Syndrome.
“How Should Justice Policy Treat Young Offenders?: A Knowledge Brief of the MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Law and Neuroscience” by Richard J. Bonnie, BJ Casey, Andre Davis, David L. Faigman, Morris B. Hoffman, Owen D. Jones, Read Montague, Stephen J. Morse, Marcus E. Raichle, Jennifer A. Richeson, Elizabeth S. Scott, Laurence Steinberg, Kim Taylor-Thompson, and Anthony Wagner (2017)
Abstract: The justice system in the United States has long recognized that juvenile offenders are not the same as adults, and has tried to incorporate those differences into law and policy. But only in recent decades have behavioral scientists and neuroscientists, along with policymakers, looked rigorously at developmental differences, seeking answers to two overarching questions: Are young offenders, purely by virtue of their immaturity, different from older individuals who commit crimes? And, if they are, how should justice policy take this into account?
A growing body of research on adolescent development now confirms that teenagers are indeed inherently different from adults, not only in their behaviors, but also (and of course relatedly) in the ways their brains function. These findings have influenced a series of Supreme Court decisions relating to the treatment of adolescents, and have led legislators and other policymakers across the country to adopt a range of developmentally informed justice policies.
New research is showing distinct changes in the brains of young adults, ages 18 to 21, suggesting that they too may be immature in ways that are relevant to justice policy. This knowledge brief from the MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Law and Neuroscience considers the implications of this new research. Purchase access to the brief.
“Gender Differences in the Developmental Cascade From Harsh Parenting to Educational Attainment: An Evolutionary Perspective” by Rochelle F. Hentges and Ming-Te Wang, Child Development (2017)
Abstract: This study utilized life history theory to test a developmental cascade model linking harsh parenting to low educational attainment. Multigroup models were examined to test for potential gender differences. The sample consisted of 1,482 adolescents followed up for 9 years starting in seventh grade (Mage = 12.74). Results supported indirect links between harsh parenting and low educational attainment through the development of extreme peer orientations, early sexual behavior, and delinquency. Among male adolescents, harsh parenting was related to the development of an extreme peer orientation, which further led to increased delinquency, and subsequently lower educational attainment. Among female adolescents, harsh parenting predicted extreme peer orientations, which increased both delinquency and early sexual behavior. Early sexual behavior further predicted lower educational attainment in female adolescents. Purchase access to the full article.
Prospects for Developmental Evidence in Juvenile Sentencing Based on Miller v. Alabama
Grisso, Thomas, Kavanaugh, Antoinette, Prospects for Developmental Evidence in Juvenile Sentencing Based on Miller v. Alabama, 22 Psychol., Pub. Pol’y, & L. 235 (2016).
Abstract: Recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions barred mandatory life without parole for juvenile homicide (Miller v. Alabama, 2012) and applied Miller retroactively (Montgomery v. Louisiana, 2016). Miller identified several developmental factors to consider in mitigation, but left many questions unanswered about their application. The authors offer several sentencing contexts to frame the types of developmental and clinical evidence that may be relevant for Miller hearings under various circumstances. Within these contexts, they explore types and sources of relevant developmental evidence and raise questions about quality and limitations. Their analysis identifies areas in which appellate court clarification is needed to determine how developmental evidence will be used in Miller cases, and they alert developmental experts to prospects and cautions for providing relevant evidence, as well as areas in need of research.
“Searching for Signatures of Brain Maturity: What Are We Searching For?” by Leah H. Somerville, Neuroview (2016)
Abstract: Evidence of continued neurobiological maturation through adolescence is increasingly invoked in discussions of youth-focused policies. This should motivate neuroscientists to grapple with core issues such as the definition of brain maturation, how to quantify it, and how to precisely translate this knowledge to broader audiences. Purchase access to the article.
“Applying the Science of Child Development in Child Welfare Systems” by Steven D. Cohen, The Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University (2016)
Abstract: How can we use insights from cutting-edge science to improve the well-being and long-term life prospects of the most vulnerable children in our society? This is both a critical challenge and a powerful opportunity to affect the trajectories of millions of children in the United States and around the world. It is a question of particular importance to those who make or affect public policy. This paper shows how the science of child development can be leveraged to strengthen and improve the public child welfare system so that it can better support the children, families, and communities it serves.
The paper is intended for leaders in the public agencies responsible for child protection and related functions; in the private, non-profit agencies that provide many of the services in these systems; in the courts, which play a critical role in child welfare; in legislative committees that oversee child welfare and related services; and in the many other public systems, such as early childhood education, mental health, and juvenile justice, whose support is essential to success in child welfare. Read the full paper.
“The Enduring Predictive Significance of Early Maternal Sensitivity: Social and Academic Competence Through Age 32
Years” by K. Lee Raby, Glenn I. Roisman, R. Chris Fraley, and Jeffry A. Simpson, Child Development (2015)
Abstract: This study leveraged data from the Minnesota Longitudinal Study of Risk and Adaptation (N = 243) to investigate the predictive significance of maternal sensitivity during the first three years of life for social and academic competence through age 32 years. Structural model comparisons replicated previous findings that early maternal sensitivity predicts social skills and academic achievement through mid-adolescence in a manner consistent with an Enduring Effects model of development and extended these findings using heterotypic indicators of social (effectiveness of romantic engagement) and academic competence (educational attainment) during adulthood. Although early socioeconomic factors and child gender accounted for the predictive significance of maternal sensitivity for social competence, covariates did not fully account for associations between early sensitivity and academic outcomes. Read the full article.
Young Children Develop in an Environment of Relationships by the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child (2014)
Abstract: An “environment of relationships” is crucial for the development of a child’s brain architecture, which lays the foundation for later outcomes such as academic performance, mental health, and interpersonal skills. However, many of our nation’s policies fail to consider the importance of adult-child relationships for child well-being. This working paper from the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child explains how these relationships shape child development, and identifies ways to strengthen policies that affect those relationships in the early childhood years. Read the full paper.
The Science of Neglect: The Persistent Absence of Responsive Care Disrupts the Developing Brain by the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child (2012)
Abstract: Young children who experience severe deprivation or neglect can experience a range of negative consequences. Neglect can delay brain development, impair executive function skills, and disrupt the body’s stress response. This working paper from the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child explains why neglect is so harmful in the earliest years of life, and why effective interventions can improve long-term outcomes in learning, health, and the parenting of the next generation. Read the full paper.
Excessive Stress Disrupts the Architecture of the Developing Brain by the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child (2004)
Abstract: This working paper from the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child defines the concept of “toxic stress”—what happens when children experience severe, prolonged adversity without adult support. It discusses how significant adversity early in life can alter a child’s capacity to learn and adapt to stressful situations, as well as how sensitive and responsive caregiving can buffer the effects of such stress. The paper also suggests how to create policies that minimize the disruptive impacts of toxic stress on young children. Read the full paper.
“Brain Development During Childhood and Adolescence: A Longitudinal MRI Study” by Jay N. Giedd, Jonathan Blumenthal, Neal O. Jeffries, F. X. Castellanos, Hong Liu, Alex Zijdenbos, Tomás Paus, Alan C. Evans, and Judith L. Rapoport, Nature Neuroscience (1999)
Abstract: Pediatric neuroimaging studies up to now exclusively cross sectional, identify linear decreases in cortical gray matter and increases in white matter across ages 4 to 20. In this large-scale longitudinal pediatric neuroimaging study, we confirmed linear increases in white matter, but demonstrated nonlinear changes in cortical gray matter, with a preadolescent increase followed by a postadolescent decrease. These changes in cortical gray matter were regionally specific, with developmental curves for the frontal and parietal lobe peaking at about age 12 and for the temporal lobe at about age 16, whereas cortical gray matter continued to increase in the occipital lobe through age 20. Read the full article.
“Piecing Together Mother’s Stress and Baby’s Genetics to Understand Brain Development” by Jim Hudziak, The American Journal of Psychiatry (2015)
This article analyzes how the circumstances of pregnancy, especially stress levels for the mother, interacts with offspring genomic architecture to influence brain development. Read the full article.
The Juvenile Record Myth
Joy Radice, The Juvenile Record Myth, 106 L.J. 365 (2018).
Abstract: The proliferation of adult criminal records and their harmful impact on people with convictions has received growing attention from scholars, the media, and legislators from both sides of the political aisle. Much less attention has been given to the far-reaching impact of juvenile delinquency records, partly because many people believe that juvenile records are not public, especially after a juvenile turns eighteen. That common notion is a myth.
This Article addresses that myth and adds to both the juvenile justice and collateral consequences literature in four ways. First, The Juvenile Record Myth illuminates the variety of ways states treat juvenile records–revealing that state confidentiality, sealing, and expungement provisions often provide far less protection than those terms suggest. Although juvenile delinquency records are not as publicly accessible as adult records, their impact is felt well beyond a juvenile’s eighteenth birthday. No state completely seals juvenile delinquency records from public view or expunges them. Some states even publish juvenile records online, and almost all permit some degree of public access.
Second, this Article provides the first comprehensive analysis of the crucial role of nondisclosure provisions in eliminating the stigma of a juvenile record. Now that colleges, employers, state licensing agencies, and even landlords are increasingly asking about juvenile delinquency charges and adjudications, the confidentiality, sealing, and expungement protections that do exist will be significantly undermined unless states allow juveniles with records not to disclose them. Third, using recent literature on juvenile brain development and the recidivism research of criminologists, The Juvenile Record Myth presents new arguments for why juvenile delinquency records should not follow a juvenile into adulthood–and why the state’s obligation to help rehabilitate juveniles (an obligation typically recognized in a state’s juvenile code) should extend to restricting access to juvenile records. Finally, it argues for a comprehensive and uniform approach to removing the stigma of a juvenile record through a combination of robust confidentiality, expungement, sealing, and nondisclosure statutes to facilitate a juvenile’s reintegration.
Monkey, Love, and 20th Century in a Nutshell
This film clip features Harry Harlow’s experiments using rhesus monkeys to study the role of caregiving and companionship in social development and cognitive development.