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Flawed Convictions"Shaken Baby Syndrome" and the Inertia of Injustice$
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Deborah Tuerkheimer

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199913633

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199913633.001.0001

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A Medical Diagnosis of Crime

A Medical Diagnosis of Crime

Chapter:
(p.1) 1 A Medical Diagnosis of Crime
Source:
Flawed Convictions
Author(s):

Deborah Tuerkheimer

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199913633.003.0001

The origins of SBS can be traced to a 1971 paper by A. Norman Guthkelch, a British pediatric neurosurgeon. In time, a “triad” of neurological symptoms came to be viewed as certain proof that a baby had been shaken. This same triad could apparently even identify the abuser (namely, the last person with the conscious infant). This chapter describes the theory of shaking developed in medical literature and in criminal courts around the country. The case of Jennifer Del Prete, an Illinois caregiver sentenced to twenty years in prison, illustrates the classic prosecution paradigm. As a starting point for considering the criminal justice system’s acceptance of the theory of Shaken Baby Syndrome, the chapter discusses the lure of blame, along with societal anxieties surrounding infant day care arrangements and non-maternal care.

Keywords:   Norman Guthkelch, triad, Jennifer Del Prete, blame, infant day care, non-maternal care

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