The latest findings in neuroscience are increasingly affecting the justice system in America. Owen Jones, professor of law and biology at Vanderbilt University, explores where neurolaw is making its mark and where the discipline is heading.
One significant finding from MRI scanners is that the adolescent brain continues to develop right into the early- and mid-twenties. The fact that we are not ‘adults’ at age 18 is having big repercussions in the legal system.
In San Francisco, the entire way that young offenders of crimes such as armed robbery up to the age of 25 are treated is adapting to the brain data.
More and more, neuroscientists are testifying in courts, often to mitigate sentences including the death penalty in juveniles. Other times, they highlight rare brain abnormalities that cause violent and antisocial behaviour, which helps justify a lighter sentence.
However, young brains are still malleable. In Wisconsin, brain imaging of juvenile prisoners can detect psychopathic markers. Once identified, staff can employ techniques to de-programme those antisocial traits and rehabilitate prisoners to ready them for, they hope, a crime-free life outside.
And this is simply the first generation of neurolaw – where to next?
The law uses the concept of decision-making capacity (or competence) to determine whether a person’s decision to, for example, refuse medical treatment, should be respected. If a person can express a decision, understand the relevant information, appreciate how it applies to his case, and use and weigh it in deliberation, then he has decision-making capacity, and the refusal should be respected as his to make, and otherwise not.
Can one person judge of another person whether she has decision-making capacity without prejudice? For example, can we judge whether a patient has decision-making capacity without resting on the fact that their preference not to be treated is not what we judge to be in their best interests, or not what we think we would have wanted had we been in their shoes? Why or why not?
Eligibility: Students and alumni of all University of London schools, including undergraduate and postgraduate, and medical and professional schools.
Length: less than 4,000 words
Due: 18 October 2017
Submission: Prepare your paper for blind review by making sure your name does not appear anywhere in the pages of the file, and send it to philandmed [at] kcl.ac.uk
Essays will be assessed by a panel of six distinguished academics from the University of London, chaired by Dr Tuomas Pernu.
The prize will be awarded at the Third Annual Sowerby Lecture in Philosophy and Medicine on 9 November 2017 which will be given by Dr Gareth Owen.
Job: Fee-paid Medical Members of the First-tier Tribunal, Health, Education and Social Care Chamber (Mental Health) and Fee-paid Medical Members of the Mental Health Review Tribunal for Wales29 September 2017
An exercise is expected to launch autumn/winter 2017 to identify 50 Fee-paid Medical Members of the First-tier Tribunal, Health Education and Social Care Chamber (HESC) and 10 for the Mental Health Review Tribunal for Wales (MHRT Wales).
HESC and MHRT Wales are responsible for deciding upon the necessity for the continued compulsory detention of mentally disordered patients in hospital or the continuation of a conditional discharge, guardianship, or a community treatment order.
The powers of the Tribunal are significant, with a responsibility to balance the liberty of the subject with potentially serious risk to the patient, their families and the public.
By statute, to be eligible for appointment as a Fee-paid Medical Member you must be a registered medical practitioner. “Registered medical practitioner” means a fully registered person within the meaning of the Medical Act 1983 whether or not you hold a licence to practise under the Act. Registration must be with the General Medical Council (GMC) in the UK.
Additional selection criteria may be applied; check the JAC website regularly for updates. You can also sign up for alerts to receive email notifications concerning the progress of the exercise up to launch.
University of Oxford – Wellcome Centre for Ethics and Humanities
Salary: £31,076 to £36,001 Grade 7 p.a.
Hours: Full Time
Contract Type: Fixed-Term/Contract
Job Ref: 130447
Applications are invited for a full-time Research Fellow to conduct collaborative research in philosophy and applied ethics, with a neuroethics research focus, as part of the new interdisciplinary Wellcome Centre for Ethics and and Humanities.
This post is fixed term for two years from the date of appointment; ideally the post will begin in October 2017. The fellow will be located in the Wellcome Centre for Ethics and Humanities in the new Big Data Institute in Oxford’s Old Road campus as well as having office space in central Oxford at the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, which is part of the Faculty of Philosophy. The post will be managed via two 50% contracts issued to the Research Fellow.
The fellow will conduct collaborative research under the supervision of Professor Julian Savulescu (Co-Director of the Wellcome Centre for Ethics and Humanities and Director of the Uehiro Centre). This post will focus particularly on neuroethics, in relation to at least some of the following: advances in neuroscience (particularly neuroimaging); incidental findings (in children and adults); bioprediction; neuroenhancement technologies; replicability and data management in neuroscience – ethics at the intersection of data science and neurosciences; ethics of brain organoids and human-nonhuman chimeras; experimental treatment (including gene therapy, in neurodegenerative conditions); concepts of disease and normality, well-being and disability.
Collaborative research will include the provision of research assistance for Professor Savulescu, literature reviews and preparing drafts of publications. The fellow will also play an important role in establishing and developing collaborative relationships within the new and interdisciplinary Wellcome Centre for Ethics and Humanities and between the two centres and will participate in related activities, including public engagement as well as grant applications, event planning, preparation of policy papers, supporting donor relations and the development of collaborations, as well as other occasional duties such as administration or teaching.
The post holder is required to have received the degree of PhD (or equivalent) in philosophy or other relevant discipline (such as law) with specialisation in practical ethics, bioethics, or other related discipline or at least have submitted and preferably had examined a completed doctoral dissertation by the required start date of the post. Also essential are excellent research skills, an outstanding research record and demonstrated track record of publishing in bioethics, applied ethics or neuroethics, and a strong track record in public engagement.
Applications must be made online.
Applications are to be submitted no later than 12.00 midday (UK time) on Friday 8 September 2017.
The position is within the Centre of Medical Law and Ethics, Dickson Poon School of Law. The Centre was the first of its kind in the United Kingdom and is an international leader in research and teaching within the field.
The salary will be paid at Grade 6, £32,958- £39,324 per annum, plus £2,623 per annum London Allowance.
This post is a full-time, fixed term contract for 6 months, to start at the beginning of January 2018.
Interviews will be in the week commencing: 4/09/2017.
Inquires to: email@example.com
York Law School, in collaboration with King’s College London.
Full-time position, 2.2 years.
Closing date for applications: 25th August 2017.
We wish to appoint a fixed-term full-time Post-Doctoral Research Associate to work on the ‘Enabling legal capacity through decision making support’ work stream within the ‘Mental Health and Justice’ Wellcome Trust Collaborative Award project. Based in York Law School, you will work with Matt Matravers and Jillian Craigie (King’s College, London) on moral and legal questions that surround the idea that respecting persons means respecting their (expressed) preferences in light of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability.
Further details and candidate brief here.
The Institute of Mental Health (IMH) at the University of Nottingham invites applications for a scholarship on the above topic, to be funded by the IMH. The scholarship forms part of a developing collaboration with the WHO in Geneva relating to human rights and mental health.
The successful student will be enrolled in the four-year doctoral programme in Mental Health and Well-Being, and interdisciplinary social sciences programme co-ordinated through the IMH. This programme includes extensive training in social sciences methodology, offered through the Midlands Doctoral Training Partnership. While successful candidates will have an academic home at the IMH, they will be formally enrolled in one of the IMH’s partner schools, Medicine (Division of Psychiatry and Applied Psychology), Sociology and Social Policy, Business, Law, Applied Linguistics (part of the School of English) and Health Sciences.
The scholarship is for four-years, including the initial year focussing on structured research training. It covers the equivalent of full HEU fees and maintenance, and a maintenance grant of. £14,400). Continuation of the scholarship is subject to annual review of academic progress. The scholarship is open to UK home students and EU/EEA students only.
The IMH is a partnership between Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust and the University of Nottingham. It was launched in 2006, and has grown rapidly to become one of the leading mental health institutes in the UK, currently with more than 360 members. It has 21 full professors of the University of Nottingham who provide supervision to PhD students and currently holds research contracts to the value of £28million. This comes in from research councils (for example, the Medical Research Council and the Economic and Social Research Council), the National Institute of Health Research (via Programme Grants, Health Technology Assessment and Service Delivery and Organisation), government agencies, and through charities (for example the Wellcome Trust and the Burdett Trust).
In the first instance, expressions of interest including a draft research proposal, a CV, a list of subjects studied and marks attained in each subject, should be sent to Professor Peter Bartlett, peter.bartlett [at] nottingham.ac.uk