Neuroscience and Criminal Justice in the 21st Century: A Cross-Country View

Sunday, February 19, 2012: 8:30 AM-11:30 AM
Room 220 (VCC West Building)
Although our views and opinions about criminal behavior are guided by traditional concepts of crime and punishment, cutting-edge studies of brain structure and function have inevitably focused attention on our criminal justice system. For example, differences in brain structure can cause aberrations in behavior, including criminal behavior. This session examines the ways in which the findings from bench neuroscientists, using ever-more sophisticated techniques such as neuroimaging, become implicated in criminal justice proceedings and how views of who is guilty and what remedies should follow are influenced by new knowledge of the brain. Human memory, one of the most important elements of a criminal proceeding, will be examined by a scientist and a judge, who will discuss the implications of our broadening understanding of the science of human memory for how we view the reliability of eyewitness testimony and ultimately its influence on who is found guilty and who is not. Changes in views of guilt, based on emerging findings in neuroscience, may also change notions about human responsibility, including responsibility for potentially criminal acts. To complicate matters, views of guilt and innocence as well as responsibility and agency are also influenced by how the public views this developing science: views that will partly be driven by the media and that will ultimately have a direct effect on decisions made by judges and juries.
Judy Illes, University of British Columbia
Michael J. Zigmond, University of Pittsburgh
Michael J. Zigmond, University of Pittsburgh
Ronald Reinstein, Superior Court of Arizona (retired)
The Brain and the Bench: Eyewitness Testimony, Police Lineups, and Criminal Trials
Peter McKnight, The Vancouver Sun
The End of Criminal Responsibility?
Timothy Caulfield, Health Law Institute
Neurotechnology, Law, and the Media
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