Should the justice system punish a teenager who commits a serious crime differently from an adult that commits the same crime? In this article, Gretchen M. Colón-Fuentes exposes how advances on neuroscientific studies have presented convincing and reliable proof against treating teenagers as adults for the purposes of Criminal Law. Adolescence is a transitional period in human development in which the teenager brain is passing through radical changes, leaving adolescents in a vulnerable psychological state. Therefore, making mistakes and taking irresponsible risks are an inherent part of a person whose brain has yet to attain maturity. The author argues that this neurological fact is a biological reality that requires of all components of Criminal Law to take into consideration. Based on scientific research, experts’ opinions and the pronouncements of the Supreme Court of the United States of America on brain development and the diminished capacity of teenagers, the author concludes that the system should always strive for the teenage offender’s rehabilitation.
Citation: Gretchen M. Colón-Fuentes, Teenage Brain Development: Its Impact on Criminal Activity and Trial Sentencing, 88 Rev. Jur. UPR 1062 (2019).