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Neurointerventions and the LawRegulating Human Mental Capacity$
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Nicole A Vincent, Thomas Nadelhoffer, and Allan McCay

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780190651145

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190651145.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 27 February 2021

Diversion Courts, Traumatic Brain Injury, and American Vets

Diversion Courts, Traumatic Brain Injury, and American Vets

(p.149) 7 Diversion Courts, Traumatic Brain Injury, and American Vets
Neurointerventions and the Law

Valerie Gray Hardcastle

Oxford University Press

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the lifetime traumatic brain injury (TBI) rates for prisoners are higher than for the general population. The impulsive and aggressive behaviors resulting from TBI also parallel incarceration rates. But how scientific communities understand the origins of behavior clashes with how our justice system does. Medicine, psychiatry, neuropsychology, and neurology all hold that deformities in the brain can influence or even determine a person’s thoughts, desires, impulses, and ability to control behavior. In contrast, U.S. law assumes that adults are rational beings who act for specific reasons and that, in each instance, an individual could have done otherwise. Yet, the American court system is beginning to differentiate returning combat vets with brain disorders from other offenders, creating diversion courts for veterans accused of a variety of crimes. These courts allow military offenders to enter a mental health treatment program instead of being jailed. Several questions arise from this practice. Should vets be treated differently than other noncombatant defendants with similar brain injuries? Should brain disorders affect how we assign or understand legal notions of punishment and responsibility? How do we connect data regarding neural interventions with punishment and remediation? And how do we distinguish “mad” from “bad”? This chapter attempts to answer these questions.

Keywords:   traumatic brain injury, TBI, violence impulsivity, combat veterans, diversion courts, criminal responsibility

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