Teen Brains on Trial | Science News

SUPPORT SCIENCE NEWS

Science News is a nonprofit.

Help us keep you informed.


Feature

Teen Brains on Trial

The science of neural development tangles with the juvenile death penalty

By
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.

A coalition of psychiatric and legal organizations plans to submit a brief to the justices contending that teenagers often make poor decisions and act impulsively because their brains haven't attained an adult level of organization. Consequently,

This article is only available to Science News subscribers. Already a subscriber? Log in now. Or subscribe today for full access.

Get Science News headlines by e-mail.

More from Science News

From the Nature Index Paid Content