A Dangerous Brain image

The Marshall Project, August 14, 2018
Andrew R. Calderon, quoting Francis Shen (Visiting Scholar)

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To date, neuroprediction has not been admitted into the courtroom or parole hearings. Some scholars, like Thomas Nadelhoffer, a fellow at the Kenan Institute for Ethics at Duke University, who popularized the term neuroprediction, argue that the science is reliable enough to integrate with other risk assessments.

The main obstacle, Nadelhoffer said, is reluctant defense attorneys who fear branding their clients as biologically predisposed toward crime. “Whereas I see it as a mitigating factor,” he said, a jury might not — reasoning that if the problem is in your brain, “Well, then we better lock you up.”

Not all experts agree on the state of the art, however. “There is much research afoot, but the science of neuroprediction is not ready for prime time,” said Francis X. Shen, a senior fellow in law and neuroscience at the Harvard Center for Law, Brain, and Behavior. He said that the current predictive value of biological indicators is overstated.

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