Past Event

Justice and the Developing Brain: Revisiting People Incarcerated as Youth

September 29, 2022
5:00 PM - 6:30 PM
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Online and in-person; Schapiro CEPSR (Davis Auditorium), Columbia University, 530 West 120th Street, New York

Event Description

The harshness of youth justice in the United States is notorious. In some states, 16- or 17-year-old children involved in serious offenses can be tried and punished as adults. Likewise, children may be sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole and can even serve periods of their sentence in solitary confinement. Meanwhile, developmental sciences have been contributing critical knowledge about the developmental trajectories of the brain and their reflections on social behavior. Extensive neurodevelopmental research has demonstrated that a “bright-line” age for adulthood is not reflective of the variability in brain maturity. It has further highlighted that children are exceptionally vulnerable to adverse social experiences and that (re)traumatizing events (such as incarceration) can entail disruptive effects on healthy development, with negative repercussions throughout life.

This seminar will explore how knowledge from neurodevelopmental sciences can drive systemic change in youth justice policy. Law, science, and justice experts will discuss how this body of evidence can support avenues for meaningful youth justice reform, including shifting the youth justice system from harsh punitiveness to education, healing, and rehabilitation.

Event Speakers

  • BJ Casey, Christina L. Williams Professor of Neuroscience at Barnard College
  • Federica Coppola, Senior Researcher in Criminal Law at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Crime, Security, and Law 
  • James Garbarino, Emeritus Professor of Psychology at Loyola University Chicago
  • Jon-Adrian Velazquez, New York State Program Director at the Frederick Douglass Project for Justice
  • Moderated by Geraldine Downey, Niven Professor of Humane Letters at Columbia University

Event Information

Free and open to the public. Registration is required via Eventbrite. Columbia University ID holders may attend in person. Other in-person attendees must follow Columbia's COVID-19 policies, which include mandatory proof of COVID-19 vaccination for all visitors to campus. Online attendees will receive a Zoom link from Eventbrite.

This event is hosted by the Presidential Scholars in Society and Neuroscience as part of the Seminars in Society and Neuroscience series.

The Center for Science and Society makes every reasonable effort to accommodate individuals with disabilities. If you require disability accommodations to attend a Center for Science and Society event, please contact us at [email protected] or (212) 854-0666 at least 10 days in advance of the event. For more information, please visit the campus accessibility webpage