JASON KERKMANS, MINDSET
NATHANIEL E. ANDERSON, The Mind Research Network
KENT KIEHL, University of New Mexico
A key concern for the criminal justice system is an individual’s likelihood of displaying future antisocial behavior, or behavior that involves a disregard for the rules and the well-being of others. The traditional assessments used to evaluate offenders for future risk of antisocial or violent behavior include self-reporting measures, various types of interviews, and expert-administered test batteries. These tools seek to assess possible intellectual and cognitive impairment and to measure psychological and neuropsychological constructs, including personality states and traits. But, given that the brain has the most proximal influence on behavior, direct measures of brain structure and function may be better than proxy measures in predicting future antisocial behavior. The question then becomes: If we can get information from neuroscience techniques, does that information add predictive utility to understanding and assessing antisocial behavior? To date, studies suggest that it does.
Part I of this Article reviews the tools currently available to predict antisocial behavior. Part II discusses legal precedent regarding the use of, and challenges to, various prediction methods. Part III introduces recent neuroscience work in this area and reviews two studies that have successfully used neuroimaging techniques to predict recidivism. Part IV discusses some criticisms that are commonly levied against the various prediction methods and highlights the disparity between the attitudes of the scientific and legal communities toward risk assessment generally and neuroscience specifically. Lastly, Part V explains why neuroscience methods will likely continue to help inform and, ideally, improve the tools we use to help assess, understand, and predict human behavior.