Posts tagged news

Based upon the popular, but largely incorrect, belief that sex offenders have an abnormally high risk of recidivism, sex offenders represent an ideal population to target for preventive detention. (…)
These particular myths of extremely high recidivism rates and “stranger danger” have largely served to support various
restrictions on sex offenders as well as substantiate court opinions
upholding those restrictions.

SEX OFFENDER EXCEPTIONALISM AND PREVENTIVE DETENTION.

The more emotionally charged legislature based on inaccurate public perception & resulting panic happens…the more it stays the same: Jury Clears Pataki Over Post-Prison Detention of Sex Offenders.

Research into the neural workings of the human brain—with the aid of sophisticated brain-imaging techniques such as fMRI—will, some predict, probably completely change nearly every area of law. Some believe that, in time, neuroscience will dominate the entire legal system (…) Indeed, one would be hard pressed to think of a single legal issue not potentially affected by the claims made on behalf of the influence of neuroscience on law.

Neurolaw conference announcement: Guess where I’ll be on Sept. 7th & 8th?  

At Rutgers School of Law-Camden. The line up: Debra Denno, Adam Kolber, John Mikhail, Michael Moore, Stephen Morse, Michael Pardo, Frederick Schauer and Nicole Vincent. If you’ve been around for a minute, these names should look very familiar. And exciting. 

"Supreme Court says states may not impose mandatory life sentences on juvenile murderers"

The divided SCOTUS (5-4 ruling) decided that mandatory life without parole sentences - or death in prison, is cruel and unusual punishment for juveniles, and as such, a violation of the 8th amendment.

“Our decisions rested not only on common sense — on what ‘any parent knows’ — but on science and social science as well,” Kagan wrote…

Although this is a step forward for officially recognizing the “unique status of children and their potential for change”, this decision only applied to mandatory life cases. 

There are 2,300 inmates serving life-without-parole sentences for murders committed before they were 18. But only 79 nationwide were 14 or younger at the time of their crimes, and about 90 percent of those are serving mandatory sentences. [via]

Earlier research I was involved in looked at the age of a juvenile offender, trying them as adults and how that effected sentencing. In an experiment we had 13, 15 and 17 year old kids as convicted murderers. Our mock jury (subject pool) was more likely to punish both the 13 and 17  much harsher -including the death penalty- than the 15 year old.

The reason? The 13 year old was “too damaged” and the 17 year old was “close enough to adulthood and should have known better”. Pretty interesting since all of them are legally minors and share similar developmental/rehabilitation potential.

Regarding trying juveniles as adults, unfair punishment and mitigating circumstances, Kagan goes on:

…in many states, prosecutors have the sole authority to decide when to bypass the juvenile justice system—and mandatory-sentencing schemes often result in “mismatches,” as Kagan put it, between the severity of the penalty and the offender’s culpability. “Under these schemes, every juvenile will receive the same sentence as every other—the 17-year-old and the 14-year-old, the shooter and the accomplice, the child from a stable household and the child from a chaotic and abusive one.” [via]

jtotheizzoe:

Smartphone brain scanner.

Did you hear that?  A FREAKING SMARTPHONE BRAIN SCANNER.

Wow.

(by jakobeglarsen)

SOCIAL BRAIN!

sciencecenter:

 
Tiny camera mounted on mouse take live video of the brain

 A new thumbnail-sized microscope will give researchers a way to see what’s happening in the brain of a mouse as it moves around and goes about its business. The microscope, described earlier this week in Nature Methods, weighs less than 2 grams—little enough that it can be fitted atop a rodent’s head—and tracks the activity of up to 200 brain cells.
To watch a living brain in action, researchers usually have to make sure the animal that brain belongs to is keeping very still, be it a human in an MRI machine or a mouse under a benchtop microscope. That’s not such a problem for researchers studying, say, vision or memory—but it’s difficult to investigate the neuroscience of movement or behavior when your subjects can’t move around and behave. 
The new device is a fluorescence microscope, meaning it shines light on a sample, then captures the glow that bounces back. Despite the scope’s tiny size, the researchers fit all the necessary optical components—lenses, sensors, a mirror, an LED light, and more—inside it. In addition to being mobile, the microscope captures the activity of more cells than a traditional benchtop microscope does, letting researchers see what’s happening in a larger area of the brain.

The video is seriously amazing. Make sure to check it out.

This is a MUST SEE, I could stare at this all day. Amazing! I can only think of how this technology would be useful in my old lab. 

sciencecenter:

Tiny camera mounted on mouse take live video of the brain

 A new thumbnail-sized microscope will give researchers a way to see what’s happening in the brain of a mouse as it moves around and goes about its business. The microscope, described earlier this week in Nature Methods, weighs less than 2 grams—little enough that it can be fitted atop a rodent’s head—and tracks the activity of up to 200 brain cells.

To watch a living brain in action, researchers usually have to make sure the animal that brain belongs to is keeping very still, be it a human in an 
MRI machine or a mouse under a benchtop microscope. That’s not such a problem for researchers studying, say, vision or memory—but it’s difficult to investigate the neuroscience of movement or behavior when your subjects can’t move around and behave. 

The new device is a fluorescence microscope, meaning it shines light on a sample, then captures the glow that bounces back. Despite the scope’s tiny size, the researchers fit all the necessary optical components—lenses, sensors, a mirror, an LED light, and more—inside it. In addition to being mobile, the microscope captures the activity of more cells than a traditional benchtop microscope does, letting researchers see what’s happening in a larger area of the brain.

The video is seriously amazing. Make sure to check it out.

This is a MUST SEE, I could stare at this all day. Amazing! I can only think of how this technology would be useful in my old lab. 

"Transitioning brain research – From the laboratory to the field."

While neuroscientists and science writers are busy ping-ponging back and forth speculating about the merit and potential of neuro lab research applications in the real world, private, non-profit agencies and the government are wasting no time. I found a very interesting hub of information dealing with the “ethical, legal, and social issues associated with emerging neurotechnology,”  that assists in  ”shepherding constructive discourse on these issues”….. and, why not?  I’ll be posting some of their peer reviewed abstracts here and leaving it up for discussion, because it should be discussed. You, know…I’ll be going to the Arlington/D.C. area again soon, and wonder if I could pop in for a tour? Dibs on this one, kids!

While brain research shows great potential for advancing critical national security interests, the products of the laboratory cannot be realized in operational practice without the polishing and maturing demanded by federal science and technology (S&T) acquisition processes, particularly those of the Department of Defense. Although many acquisition planning functions are relatively conventional, new or evolving capabilities resulting from brain research applications may impact national security doctrine in unexpected ways. Integrating brain research into operating doctrine and practice may therefore demand a fresh look at the steps of the acquisition process itself, and earlier collaborations between researchers, operational communities, and acquisition managers to ensure the significant benefits of this S&T domain without inducing unwanted surprise.

Via: Synesis: A Journal of Science, Technology, Ethics, and Policy 2011; 2(1):T 17-25
Steve Murray, PhD, Matthew A. Yanagi

Italy 'to open first prison for transgender inmates'

Gay rights groups in Italy welcomed the move to convert an almost empty medium security women’s prison into a specially equipped detention centre.

It is thought that Italy has a total of some 60 transgender prisoners.