Adolescents, Crime and Brain Development.-Maggie Clampet-Lundquist

Adolescents, Crime and Brain Development.

Ghani  is a friend of my mom’s. When he was fifteen years old he and another friend of his came from New York to Philadelphia to work with a drug gang. His friend and he were put inside of an abandoned house where they were locked in a room and sold drugs through a slit in the door, and they were brought food and water through the slit in the door. They were trapped, desperate, and fifteen years old and their brains weren’t thinking about the consequences of their actions, so when the next person came to the door they killed him so they could escape. Ghani and his friends were both tried as adults as many teenagers are even though that shouldn’t be the case. There is no doubt that what Ghani and his friend did is wrong, but should they have been tried as adults?

The rational region (frontal lobe) of a teen’s brain won’t be fully developed until the age of twenty-five. The frontal lobe contains a region called the prefrontal cortex which lets us organize our thoughts, anticipate consequences, plan, and control impulses. “The frontal lobe undergoes far more change during adolescence than at any other stage of life.” It is also the last part of the brain to develop, which means that even as they become fully capable in other areas, adolescents cannot reason as well as adults. Under development of rational thinking causes teens to rely on emotional parts of the brain, rather than the frontal lobe.”  A scientist who studies adolescent brains explains, “one of the things that teenagers seem to do is to respond more strongly with gut response than they do with evaluating the consequences of what they’re doing.” Ghani and his friend didn’t kill the man out of act of violence, they killed him based on emotion. They felt trapped. They were trapped! Unfortunately our legal system doesn’t recognize that that teenage are more likely to do mindless thing because they lack rational thinking.

"Adolescence, Brain Development and Legal Culpability." Juvenile Justice Center. N.p., Jan. 2004. Web. 7 June 2016.