Neuroscience and Criminal Punishment

Neuroscience is continuing to show that strict punishment is not optimally effective in preventing or reducing crime. Yet we as a culture persist in our resistance to change. Science is also showing that parenting is a mechanism that passes down behavior patterns from one generation to the next.

I recommend this great article by David Eagleman and Sarah Isgur Flores, delineating the distinction between what modern science is showing about human behavior and the way our criminal justice system operates: Defining A Neurocompatibility Index for Criminal Justice Systems: A Framework to Align Social Policy with Modern Brain Science by David M. Eagleman and Sarah Isgur Flores.

Eagleman’s and Flores’ recommendations for improvement include more personalized review of each individual’s situation; specialized courts for different issues such as substance abuse and mental illness; tailored sentencing based on risk assessment; and customized rehabilitation.

To improve outcomes and to make the most beneficial changes, it is critical that we as a society implement processes to speed up dissemination of the results of the most recent academic research to the general public and to policymakers.

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