Empathy for Psychopaths: Using fMRI Brain Scans to Plea for Leniency in Death Penalty Cases

The University of Alabama Law & Psychology Review, Vol. 27 (2012-2013)

48 Pages Posted: 4 Oct 2013  

Kimberly D. Phillips

Charleston School of Law

Date Written: October 2, 2013

Abstract

Most of the public agrees that society is safer without psychopaths. However, a new sentencing strategy for psychopaths facing the death penalty has erupted from both mental health researchers and defense lawyers - imploring juries to view a defendant's psychopathy as a consideration of sentencing mitigation, and, consequently, urging juries to impose life imprisonment instead of the death penalty. This article explains the frightening nature of psychopaths, how neuroscience and neuroimaging intersects with the study of psychopathy, and, specifically, whether an fMRI brain scan is appropriate mitigating evidence in death penalty sentencing hearings when the convicted defendant is a diagnosed psychopath.

Suggested Citation

Phillips, Kimberly D., Empathy for Psychopaths: Using fMRI Brain Scans to Plea for Leniency in Death Penalty Cases (October 2, 2013). The University of Alabama Law & Psychology Review, Vol. 27 (2012-2013). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2334775

Kimberly D. Phillips (Contact Author)

Charleston School of Law ( email )

Charleston, SC 29402
United States
843.377.1396 (Phone)

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