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Genetics and Criminality: The Potential Misuse of Scientific Information in Court

NCJ Number
Jeffrey R. Botkin, William M. McMahon, Leslie Pickering Francis
Date Published
290 pages
This book attempts to assist judges and attorneys in understanding some of the basic science and clinical medicine relevant to mental health disorders and how they might relate to criminal behavior.
The volume explores the legal philosophy concerning use of mental health conditions as exculpatory or mitigating factors in criminal proceedings. Part I of the book addresses the history of efforts to understand mental health disorders; the history of mental health disorders in criminal law, specifically the insanity defense; and the philosophy of free will. Part II focuses on important clinical information about mental health disorders, and addresses progress and difficulties in genetic research on those conditions. Part III considers how the law may deal with new genetic information about mental health problems--specifically, if there are genetic tests for mental disorders, how the law might treat the “genetic defense” for criminal behavior. Part IV summarizes conclusions drawn from the first three parts and offers recommendations for future work. The majority of authors in this volume are profoundly skeptical that a “genetics defense” will find a secure justification in criminal law. References, notes, figures, tables, indexes


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