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Addiction and ChoiceRethinking the relationship$
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Nick Heather and Gabriel Segal

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198727224

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198727224.001.0001

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Addiction, choice, and criminal law

Addiction, choice, and criminal law

Chapter:
(p.426) Chapter 23 Addiction, choice, and criminal law
Source:
Addiction and Choice
Author(s):

Stephen J. Morse

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198727224.003.0023

Some claim that addiction is a chronic and relapsing brain disease; others claim that it is a product of choice; still others think that addictions have both disease and choice aspects. Which of these views holds sway in a particular domain enormously influences how that domain treats addictions. With limited exceptions, Anglo-American criminal law has implicitly adopted the choice model and a corresponding approach to responsibility. Addiction is irrelevant to the criteria for the prima facie case of crime, it is not an excusing or mitigating condition per se, and it does not contribute relevant evidence to existing excusing conditions, such as legal insanity. This chapter evaluates the criminal law’s model of responsibility using scientific and clinical evidence and dominant criminal law theories. It concludes that although the law’s approach is generally justifiable, current doctrine and practice are probably too unforgiving and harsh. Recommendations for reform conclude the chapter.

Keywords:   addiction, disease, choice, responsibility, criminal law theories

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