Probation and effective rehabilitation – an alternative to incarceration? Using neuroscience to facilitate rehabilitation methods


  • Janika Bockmeyer



In recent years critiques of collective sentencing and imprisonment have gained importance. Alarming numbers of overcrowded prisons and extraordinary high rates of recidivism have drawn attention towards legal proceedings and the imposition of sanctions and sentences. Moreover, assessments of forensic psychologists appeared to be of rather less accuracy in terms of predicting the propensity of a perpetrator to reoffend. At the same time, the field of neuroscience has experienced significant progress in exploring our brains and the connection to our minds. More precisely, the research on correlations between specific brain functioning and appertaining human behaviour has remarkably advanced in recent years. Certain methods have been developed allowing for brain imagining and lie detection to a certain extent. For this reason, the field of ‘neurolaw’ has emerged with emphasis on the impact of neuroscience on law. Proponents of the latter suggest that neuroscience may serve as evidence to support solving questions of guilt and punishment and help to advance the forecast of future criminal behaviour. Especially in the light of emerging neuroscientific findings both legal and neuroscientific scholars have argued for a reform of the justice systems towards more individualized litigation and a greater focus on rehabilitation instead of incarceration.


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