How Neuroscience Can Improve the Current Criminal Justice Landscape
Date:  11-13-2017

Article provides evidence-based practices guided by neuroscience that prison systems could adopt for a better outcome
From the article by Arielle Baskin-Sommers in The Conversation:

Every week, I wait for the cold steel bars to close behind me, for count to be called, and for men who have years – maybe the rest of their lives – to spend in this prison to come talk with me. I am a clinical psychologist who studies chronic antisocial behavior. My staff and I converted an office in a Connecticut state prison into research space that allows us to measure neural and behavioral responses.

Recently, Joe, a man serving a life sentence, came into our prison lab. Before I could even review our research consent form, he said, “You know it is all about the brain.” Joe asked if we could provide evidence that “something” in his brain was responsible for his crime. If not, could we just “zap” his brain to remove bad “stuff,” like on TV?

In that moment, I realized that he, like many other inmates and people in the general public, holds unfounded expectations about the wonders of neuroscience. They believe that researchers like me now can so clearly trace connections between brain and behavior that we can use our knowledge to determine guilt or innocence, decide criminal sentences or definitively assess risk and needs. These expectations place a great burden on a science still in its infancy. There are many concerns about the appropriate use of neuroscience in a criminal justice setting. But there are plenty of well-supported neuroscientific findings that could make a real difference in our correctional system right now – both for those who are incarcerated and everyone else. Continue reading >>>