More Autonomous or more Fenced-in? Neuroscientific Instruments and Intervention in Criminal Justice



Neuroscientific research in relation to antisocial behavior has strongly grown in the last decades. This has resulted in a better understanding of biological factors associated with antisocial behavior. Furthermore several neuroscientific instruments and interventions have been developed that have a relatively low threshold for use in the criminal justice system to contribute to prevention or reduction of antisocial and criminal behavior. When considering implementation in the criminal justice system, ethical aspects of the use of neuroscientific instruments and interventions need to be taken into account. With respect to ethics in relation to neurocriminology much of the literature focuses on identifying and debating risks and value conflicts. This is important and necessary, but the positive contribution of neuroscientific applications may therefore get less attention in the ethical literature. Yet, ethicists can help criminal justice researchers and practitioners to identify ways in which neuroscience could add positively to important values in (young) offender rehabilitation. It is argued that this role of ethicists in interdisciplinary teams deserves more emphasis. As an illustration, this contribution focuses on how neuroscientific knowledge, instruments and interventions may contribute to autonomy of (young) offenders.


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