Changing Law’s Mind: How Neuroscience Can Help Us Punish
Criminals More Fairly and Effectively
Deborah W. Denno, CHANGING LAW'S MIND: HOW NEUROSCIENCE CAN HELP US PUNISH CRIMINALS MORE FAIRLY AND EFFECTIVELY, Oxford University Press, Forthcoming
4 Pages Posted: 15 Aug 2011 Last revised: 23 Sep 2011
Date Written: August 15, 2011
A criminal justice system should protect society from crime and also punish criminals at the level of their blameworthiness. Changing Law’s Mind contends that new insights about the brain can help us in the quest to construct a fairer and more effective criminal justice system. Recent neuroscientific discoveries suggest that some of our previous intuitions about human culpability fail to reflect the reality of how the brain functions. If we ignore these developments, we risk perpetuating a justice system that punishes some people far too much and others too little or not at all.
The intersection of law and neuroscience is a thriving topic, but this book is unique. Many books and chapters in edited books focus narrowly on issues such as the diagnosis and effect of brain abnormalities or the possibility that neuroscience will someday perfect lie detection. Changing Law’s Mind, instead, provides readers with a foundation in both the legal doctrine and neuroscience and then uses that bridge to question the criminal law’s underlying principles and practice, starting from the moment a case is processed in the system to the point at which a defendant is sentenced and punished. Based on this assessment, the book suggests ways in which the criminal law can change - either quickly by accommodating our new understanding of the human mind into current practice or more fundamentally by incorporating this understanding into long-term modifications of criminal law doctrine.
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