- The role of neuroscience in drug policy: Promises and prospects. Ormachea PA, Savjani RR, DeLaGarza R, Eagleman DM (2016). Journal of Science and Law 2(1): 1-15.
- Enabling individualized criminal sentencing while reducing subjectivity: a tablet-based assessment of recidivism risk. Ormachea PA, Davenport S, Haarsma G, Jarman A, Henderson H, Eagleman DM (2016). AMA Journal of Ethics 18:243-251.
- A new criminal records database for large scale analysis of policy and behavior. Ormachea PA, Haarsma G, Davenport S, Eagleman DM (2015). Journal of Science and Law 1(1):1-7.
- Defining a neurocompatibility index for systems of law. Eagleman DM, Isgur S (2012). In Law of the Future, Hague Institute for the Internationalisation of Law: 161-172.
Criminal jurisprudence is often driven more by intuition and political needs than by evidence-based science. As a result, criminal laws frequently prove sub-optimal and inefficacious. As a guideline for improvement, we here define a neurocompatibility index: seven cri- teria to measure the degree to which a system of criminal justice is compatible with the lessons of modern science. These include: (1) understanding of mental illness, (2) methods of rehabilitation, (3) individualised sentencing based on risk assessment, (4) eyewitness identification standards, (5) specialised court systems, (6) incentive structuring based on psychology, and (7) a minimum standard of science education for policy-makers. As demonstrated in the ideas outlined here, a brain-compatible system prizes fairness and long- term crime prevention over harsh yet inconsequential punishment.
Intuitions of blameworthiness as a heuristic that evaluates the probability of the offender committing future antisocial acts. Bumann B, Eagleman DM (2012). Thurgood Marshall Law Journal 36(2):129-155.
In an economic model of crime, the costs and benefits that are associated with committing a crime can be partitioned into a series of factors, such as social costs, material gain from the act, fear of retribution, state punishment, and several others. An understanding of the values that an offender places on the underlying variables would tell a great deal about how likely an offender is to recidivate. However, because these variables are private, they can only be estimated by inference. We argue that people have evolved behavioral heuristics to roughly estimate the utility functions of norm-violators in our societies and that the output of the heuristic is our sense of blameworthiness. In other words, the degree of blameworthiness serves as an unconscious estimate of another actor's assumed utility function; those with a high likelihood to recidivate induce feelings of higher blameworthiness. In this way, blameworthiness has served a crude but effective evolutionary role in directing punitive action towards offenders in proportion to their recidivistic potential. In this article, we present evidence from the behavioral sciences and from analysis of the American legal system that support this model. Additionally, an alternative to our theory is put forth, but is shown to fail at explaining people's intuitions of blameworthiness.
Legal-Ease: Is Neuroimaging a Valid Biomarker in Legal Cases? Valeo T (2012). Neurology Today 12(8): 38-40.
The Brain on Trial. Eagleman DM (2011). The Atlantic. July 2011.
Breivik's Brain. Eagleman DM (2011). Published in NZZ am Sonntag (Switzerland), Politiken (Denmark), and The Independent (UK), Aug 2011.
The human brain: Turning our minds to the law. Eagleman DM (2011). The Telegraph. Apr 5, 2011.
Why neuroscience matters for a rational drug policy. Eagleman DM, Correro MA, Singh J (2010). Minnesota Journal of Law, Science and Technology.
Neuroscience and the Law. Eagleman DM (2008). Houston Lawyer 16(6): 36-40.