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Teen Brains on Trial

The science of neural development tangles with the juvenile death penalty

5:57pm, May 3, 2004

Later this year, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments about whether federal law should continue to permit executions of 16- and 17-year-olds convicted of murder. On this life-or-death issue, controversial legal and ethical views on teenagers' capacity to control their behavior and obey the law will take center stage. However, a relative newcomer to the debate—the burgeoning science of brain development—may critically influence the high court's final decision.

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