Brain Abnormalities in the Criminal Justice System: Uniting Public Policy and Scientific Knowledge

By David Admire and Alissa Mitchell.

Published by The Social Sciences Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Studies show that up to 25-87% of inmates report having experienced a Traumatic Brain Injury, while 80% of prison inmates suffer from learning disabilities and/or attention deficit disorder. These are neurological disorders that may result in unintended criminal behavior. While these disorders do not excuse criminal behavior, they do explain behavior and can provide a basis for noncriminal sanctions to prevent reoffense. Too often, public policy relating to criminal sanctions focuses on the belief that criminal behavior is a matter of will, motivation, or intentional decision making. When, in actuality, this behavior may be a direct or indirect result of abnormal neurological development over which the individual has no control. I initiated a program for offenders living with ADD and/or learning disabilities that reduced recidivism by 40%. Public policy must be brought in line with scientific knowledge with brain abnormalities. Failing to do so results in wasted tax dollars and the needless incarceration of individuals whose only failing may be that their brains function differently than others. This presentation will explore the current state of scientific knowledge about brain scans and the knowledge they can provide about individuals living with TBI, violence and aggressive behavior, learning disorders, and brain dysfunctions. Furthermore, it will review current policy which supports criminal sanctions, and it will discuss why and how that public policy must be changed.

Keywords: Brain Imaging, Brain Scans, Traumatic Brain Injury, Spect Scans, Attention Deficit Disorder, Learning Disabilities, Criminal Justice, Public Policy Reform

International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Volume 5, Issue 2, pp.343-356. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 637.382KB).

David Admire

Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science and Criminal Justice, Southern Utah University, Cedar City, Utah, USA

I am currently an assistant professor in the department of political science and criminal justice at Southern Utah University. I have also taught at Bethany College and Seattle University. I was a judge in the state of Washington for 22 years. I have spoken at state, national and international conferences on a variety of issues involving the criminal justice system including learning disabilities, attention deficit disorder, brain dysfunction and alcohol and drugs. I have also developed an internship programs for French law students from Cergy Pontoise University near Paris where I also lecture.

Alissa Mitchell

Student, Department of Political Science and Criminal Justice, Southern Utah University, Cedar City, Utah, USA

I am a senior at Southern Utah University and will be attending law school in the fall of 2010.


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