The findings in this initial exploration of the impact of genetic attributions for criminal behavior suggest limited direct effect on decisions regarding verdicts and sentencing. . . .Although confirmatory studies are needed, our data to date are consistent with the conclusion that both the hopes and concerns that have been expressed of the potential impact of behavioral genetic data in the criminal courts are overstated.
----- Paul S. Appelbaum, M.D. and Nicholas Scurich, Ph.D "Impact of Behavioral Genetic Evidence on the Adjudication of Criminal Behavior," Journal of the Academy of Psychiatry and Law (2014)
This may not be a totally fair critique -- and if it's not I apologize -- AND from my perspective these kinds of studies so miss the point. We know that there are all kinds of complicated factors that effect behavior -- genetics, past history of abuse, etc. AND we know that we don't know it all. So who do we put the burden on in a competency proceeding or mitigating defense proceeding, an indigent defendant. WTF. I'm sorry -- that is beyond "arbitrary and capricious," -- that "shocks the conscience." So why do we do it? I think it is because that we're afraid we won't be able to protect the community if we acknowledge reality -- there are very complicated reasons, including genetics, past history of abuse, bad environment, something we haven't discovered yet, etc. for much of human behavior, including bad behavior. As for some ultra-conclusive evidence one way or the other to settle the old free will v. determinism debate -- in the words of a currently popular Disney song ---- "Let It Go." We need a humane system that respects human rights right now and that does a better job of protecting the community right now -- acknowledging the reality of what we know, and that we don't know everything. We can do that -- I feel a Structure of Legal Revolutions coming in the air tonight. At least it's pretty to think so.
"The conference will focus on the development of the brain from conception, in utero to the early post natal stages.
"If something goes wrong during this time, it may have major consequences, and many known psychiatric illnesses can be traced back to this period.
"Schizophrenia, autism, ADHD, bipolar disorder and anxiety syndrome are just a few examples. "
"The more you know, the more you realize you don't know"
Dr. Elias Zerhouni, Director of the National Institutes of Health
“The explosion of data about the brain is overwhelming conventional ways of making sense of it," said Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D., Director of the National Institutes of Health. "Like the Human Genome Project, the Human Brain Project is building shared databases in standardized digital form, integrating information from the level of the gene to the level of behavior. These resources will ultimately help us better understand the connection between brain function and human health.”
Thomas Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions