Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Criminal justice


Extralegal factors may influence judicial outcomes. Here we investigated the experience of incidental haptic sensations on the harshness of punishment recommendations. Based on recent theories of embodiment, which claim that cognitive representations are structured by metaphorical mappings from sensory experience, we hypothesized that tactile priming with hard objects would cause subjects to recommend harsher sentences (to be ‘hard on crime’). Furthermore, the theory of embodiment predicts that this effect should be based on sensorimotor brain activation during the judging process. In order to test this we presented participants with scenarios that described various crimes while scanning their brain activity with fMRI. Participants were then asked to rate how severely they would sentence the delinquents. Before the scenarios, the participants were primed by touching either a hard or a soft object. Results revealed tha t hard priming led participants to recommend harder punishments. These results were accompanied by activation of somatosensory brain areas during the judging phase. This outcome is in line with simulation assumptions of the embodiment theory and proposes a central role of the sensorimotor cortices for embodied metaphors. Thus, incidental tactile experiences can influence our abstract cognitions and even how hard we are on criminals.

Concepts: Cognition, Sensory system, Somatosensory system, Empiricism, Crime, Theory, Proprioception, Criminal justice


The number of older adults in the criminal justice system is rapidly increasing. While this population is thought to experience an early onset of aging-related health conditions (“accelerated aging”), studies have not directly compared rates of geriatric conditions in this population to those found in the general population. The aims of this study were to compare the burden of geriatric conditions among older adults in jail to rates found in an age-matched nationally representative sample of community dwelling older adults.

Concepts: Sample, Gerontology, Old age, Crime, Prison, Criminal justice, Punishment, Corrections


There is a notable shift toward more repression and criminalization in sex work policies, in Europe and elsewhere. So-called neo-abolitionism reduces sex work to trafficking, with increased policing and persecution as a result. Punitive “demand reduction” strategies are progressively more popular. These developments call for a review of what we know about the effects of punishing and repressive regimes vis-à-vis sex work. From the evidence presented, sex work repression and criminalization are branded as “waterbed politics” that push and shove sex workers around with an overload of controls and regulations that in the end only make things worse. It is illustrated how criminalization and repression make it less likely that commercial sex is worker-controlled, non-abusive, and non-exploitative. Criminalization is seriously at odds with human rights and public health principles. It is concluded that sex work criminalization is barking up the wrong tree because it is fighting sex instead of crime and it is not offering any solution for the structural conditions that sex work (its ugly sides included) is rooted in. Sex work repression travels a dead-end street and holds no promises whatsoever for a better future. To fight poverty and gendered inequalities, the criminal justice system simply is not the right instrument. The reasons for the persistent stigma on sex work as well as for its present revival are considered.

Concepts: Law, Human rights, Crime, Criminal law, Prostitution, Criminal justice, Police, Rights


To compare the change in illicit opioid users' risk of fatal drug-related poisoning (DRP) associated with opioid agonist pharmacotherapy (OAP) and psychological support, and investigate the modifying effect of patient characteristics, criminal justice system (CJS) referral, and treatment completion.

Concepts: Clinical trial, Law, Crime, Criminal law, Criminal justice, Punishment, Police, Corrections


Brain-activity markers of guilty knowledge have been promoted as accurate and reliable measures for establishing criminal culpability. Tests based on these markers interpret the presence or absence of memory-related neural activity as diagnostic of whether or not incriminating information is stored in a suspect’s brain. This conclusion critically relies on the untested assumption that reminders of a crime uncontrollably elicit memory-related brain activity. However, recent research indicates that, in some circumstances, humans can control whether they remember a previous experience by intentionally suppressing retrieval. We examined whether people could use retrieval suppression to conceal neural evidence of incriminating memories as indexed by Event-Related Potentials (ERPs). When people were motivated to suppress crime retrieval, their memory-related ERP effects were significantly decreased, allowing guilty individuals to evade detection. Our findings indicate that brain measures of guilty knowledge may be under criminals' intentional control and place limits on their use in legal settings.

Concepts: Neuroscience, Crime, Criminal law, Morality, Criminology, Criminal justice, Suppression, Suppression of dissent


People with mental illness and substance use disorder are over-represented in prisons. Injury-related mortality is elevated in people released from prison, and both mental illness and substance use disorder are risk factors for injury. Effective care coordination during the transition between criminal justice and community service providers improves health outcomes for people released from prison. However, the health outcomes and support needs of people with dual diagnosis (co-occurring mental illness and substance use disorder) released from prison are poorly understood. Here we aim to examine the association between dual diagnosis and non-fatal injury in adults released from prison.

Concepts: Health care, Epidemiology, Clinical trial, Mental disorder, Prison, Criminal justice, Punishment, Corrections


Māori are overrepresented in the criminal justice system in Aotearoa New Zealand. Māori offenders comprise 53% of those serving custodial sentences and 48% serving community-based sentences. The majority of Māori offenders reoffended within 2 years of serving their sentence. A number of programmes aimed at reducing recidivism among Māori have been implemented, and there is considerable debate around the effectiveness of these programmes. This qualitative study focuses on the narratives of four Māori male ex-inmates about their reoffending and their experiences of the rehabilitation programmes during their incarceration. Using a narrative approach, the study sought to hear the shared stories from the men and to determine what they believe would have reduced their reoffending. The stories revealed that a lack of financial resources and gang connections influenced reoffending; the value of prison rehabilitation programmes varied depending on their appropriateness to the inmate and to their intended outcomes; and healing programmes incorporating kaupapa Māori principles and practices assisted the participants in understanding their cultural heritage and communicating with society in more acceptable ways.

Concepts: Crime, Criminal law, New Zealand, Prison, Criminal justice, Punishment, Recidivism, Māori


Punishment facilitates large-scale cooperation among humans, but how punishers, who incur an extra cost of punishment, can successfully compete with non-punishers, who free-ride on the punisher’s policing, poses an evolutionary puzzle. One answer is by coordinating punishment to minimise its cost. Notice, however, that in order to effectively coordinate their punishment, potential punishers must know in advance whether others would also be willing to punish a particular norm violator. Such knowledge might hinder coordination by tempting potential punishers to free-ride on other punishers. Previous research suggests that moral emotions, such as moral outrage and moral disgust, serve as a commitment device and drive people to carry out the costly act of punishment. Accordingly, we tested whether the perception of socially shared condemnation (i.e., knowledge that others also condemn a particular violator) would amplify moral outrage and moral disgust, and diminish empathy for the violator. Study 1 (scenario-based study) revealed that perceived shared condemnation was correlated positively with moral outrage and moral disgust, and negatively with empathy. Study 2 experimentally demonstrated that information indicating that others also condemn a particular norm violation amplified moral outrage. Lastly, Study 3 (autobiographical recall study) confirmed the external validity of the finding.

Concepts: Psychology, Sociology, Perception, Morality, Coordination, Criminal justice, Punishment, Punisher


With the development of the Internet, Internet vigilantism (netilantism) has emerged as a new phenomenon in recent years. Although there are several qualitative studies explaining netilantism, there is little empirical research on public perceptions of netilantism. This article aims to outline Hong Kong university students' general perception of netilantism and investigate the differences between different roles in netilantism. By using empowerment theory as the theoretical framework, we will investigate whether Internet vigilantes (netilantes) (a) perceive the criminal justice system as effective, (b) possess high levels of self-efficacy in the cyber world, and © tend to believe netilantism can achieve social justice. Findings support the proposition that human flesh search engine is an empowerment tool for the netilante enabling him or her to achieve his goal of social justice. Different roles in netilantism (i.e., bystander, netilante, victim, and none of the above roles) have different perceptions of netilantism and the criminal justice system. The results will be explained by studying two representative cases of netilantism-the “Government Official Molestation” case and the “Cat Abuse in Shun Tin Village” case from China and Hong Kong, respectively.

Concepts: Scientific method, Understanding, Perception, Theory, Criminal justice, Chinese language, Hong Kong, Internet vigilantism


In this article the authors apply Relational-Cultural Theory to pet therapy in correctional institutions. An important premise is that when pet therapy is used in prisons a symbiotic relationship develops between pets and prison inmates which, at the same time, improve their relationships with people themselves. Relational-Cultural Theory posits that relationships with individuals are not just a means to an end. Rather, good relationships promote growth and healthy development; they also cultivate reciprocal empathy. Hence, a major reason of suffering for most people is their experience of isolation; healing can occur in growth-fostering relationships.

Concepts: Medicine, Symbiosis, Prison, Criminal justice, Punishment, Corrections, Penology, Cleaner fish