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Neuroscience and Legal Responsibility$
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Nicole A. Vincent

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199925605

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199925605.001.0001

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How May Neuroscience Affect the Way that the Criminal Courts Deal with Addicted Offenders?

How May Neuroscience Affect the Way that the Criminal Courts Deal with Addicted Offenders?

Chapter:
(p.279) 12 How May Neuroscience Affect the Way that the Criminal Courts Deal with Addicted Offenders?
Source:
Neuroscience and Legal Responsibility
Author(s):

Wayne Hall

Adrian Carter

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199925605.003.0012

Two competing views of addiction often frame debates about the legal responsibility of addicted persons for their drug use and crimes committed in order to use drugs: 1) the “brain disease model”; and 2) the commonsense view. The brain disease model suggests that addicted offenders may not be legally responsible for criminal behavior engaged in to fund drug use. According to the moral model they should be held responsible. The legal practice in Australia (as in most developed countries) represents a defensible pragmatic compromise between these two positions. Courts typically do not accept addiction as a defense in criminal cases but often use coerced treatment for addiction as an alternative to imprisonment. We describe the different ways in which this practice has been implemented and summarize evidence on its effectiveness. We conclude by considering how research on addiction may be used to improve legal practice in dealing with addicted offenders.

Keywords:   addiction, responsibility, neuroscience, brain disease, coercion, drug courts, treatment

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