- Published: October 31, 2012
Recidivism rates for violent and drug related crimes are well above fifty percent according to the Bureau of Justice (1). With this in mind, being able to accurately identity those most at risk would be an invaluable tool for the justice system. However, the methods used to currently predict recidivism rates are not very accurate. Psychiatrist’s evaluations, for the most part, are not correct. Perhaps findings in neuroscience could be the key to accurately predicting recidivism rates.
A journal article published by Columbia Law School discusses cognitive neuroscience and its relationship to predicting recidivism rates. According to the author, “neuroscience asserts that all individual thoughts, emotions, and feelings can be traced to certain define biological locations of the brain.” fMRIs and EEGs can identify which areas of the brain are active when a person asked to think about a subject. However, these areas could be active for a multitude of different reasons. They always discuss studies of brain-damaged patients. Scientists are able to note changes in behavior due to damage in certain areas of the brain. This way, the different functions of the brain can be mapped. In conclusion, neuroscience helps the legal system tell the difference between cognitive process and other influences of the brain.
If recidivism rates can be predicted more accurately in the future, the legal system could revamp the current system of punishment. This would open up the debate of whether a higher chance of recidivism should lead to a stronger punishment. Depending on the crime, it may be beneficial to adjust sentences. Predicting recidivism rates will never be one hundred percent accurate, but they can definitely be improved.
(1) "Recidivism." Bureau of Justice Statistics Reentry Trends in the U.S.:. Web. 31 Oct. 2012. <http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/reentry/recidivism.cfm>.
(2) Lamparello, Adam. "Using Cognitive Neuroscience to Predict Future Dangerousness." Columbia Law School. N.p., n.d. Web. <http://www3.law.columbia.edu/hrlr/hrlr_journal/42.2/Lamparello.pdf>.
The Key to Determining Recidivism: The Brain