What If “All The Boxes Were Checked?”

If …

  • Your mother drank while you were in the womb?
  • Your father was never a part of your life?
  • Your family barely had enough money to eat?
  • Your neighbor sexually abused you at age ten?

… should a judge consider those things when sentencing you for a crime?

Yesterday I referenced Adrian Raine’s book, which I haven’t read yet, but it’s worth discussing.

The tagline is: ‘The Biological Roots of Crime.”

You might think that he’s suggesting that some criminals have a built-in excuse. I concede, that’s one way to phrase it.

  • Not everyone who endures hardships commits a crime.
  • Not everyone who commits a crime endures hardships.

The two sentences above contain the same exact words, with opposite implications.

Mr. Raine has been studying the brains of criminals for decades. The fact of the matter is, that some people have brains that pre-dispose them to commit crimes. Put those people in adverse situations, and the results are rarely positive.

We won’t completely understand how the brain works in our lifetimes. We need to admit that, and give judges the ability to discern individual nuances in court cases.

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