The role of a psychopath in the legal system is a huge topic, but in the 21st century, it is very clear psychopath have very important role in the north American legal system. First time in 19th century French physician Philippe Pinel used psychopath syndrome and which he called “mania without determining” also as a father if the classical criminology Lombroso used terminology “born criminals” and psychopath is a person which have personality disorder and antisocial behaviors and psychopath “they have poor behavioral controls, lack a sense of empathy or guilt, have a callous disregard for other’s right, are sexually promiscuous, have a shallow affect and are constantly looking formulation; they are often described as being unethical.”
Psychopath statistic in north America
In the 21st century as we found statistic and according to statistic in the world we have around 1% psychopath and in the jail between 15% to 30 % but this number all the time changes and we cannot say concrete number of psychopath in the prison but in north America ( Canada and the United States) there is high observation for the people which have above syndromes. the person who has psychopath syndrome that does not means they must to be criminals but it is clear they are dangerousness for the public safety. In Canada judges are a focus to protect public safety from the psychopaths even in Canada per criminal code article 754 the psychopath is punished by this article “related to dangerous offenders, which is used for individuals who show a pattern of repetitive and persistent aggressive behavior.”
That means in the courtroom judge is concentrate to find psychopath’s emotional and volitional brain function and if judges see person is psychopath the punishment is normally higher than in normal situation, that means in Canadian legal system role of psychopath is aggregating factor, first Canadian judges, they must determine dangerous offenders “Who may commit future acts of physical or sexual violence.” In the world, there are many people who have critical look for the legal system in which role of a psychopath is an as aggravating factor because it is the very clear brain of a psychopath is disable and why the law should punish person which have “disable brain” and he/she have an emotional problem at this time of the crime.
What medicine says about psychopathic syndromes
These emotional and personal brain disorder problems analysis cognitive neurosciences which is most of the important instrument to progress legal system and criminal law. cognitive neurosciences “seeks to understand how human sensory system, motor system, attention memory” works in the people who have mental disorder and for all people which have problem of “function of the brain” but cognitive neurosciences evidence cannot be in legal system as a testimonial evidence for the judges, it just helps the judges to determine brain have damage or not.
Even we can take computer tomography “MRI” and “CT” but they are still shady evidences in the legal system but sometimes judges are using FMRI scans the FMRI scans helps judges to understand brain structure oxygenation levels in blood, to check brain area, to which part of brain have more oxygen and “Thorough an exceptionally complex process, the FMRI machine interprets these variations blood flow as indirect indicators neutral activity.”
FMRI images and cognitive neuroscience in criminal law show the brain problem which can provoke emotion effect. FMRI images they are not testimonial evidences in criminal law as well it just helps judges to determine brain structure and system and understand is brain disable or not.
Neuroscientist Adrian Raine which explains “important lack of empathy and fearlessness” he explaining and describing antisocial person and he according to his theory psychopath person have damage of “prefrontal cortex and amygdala and the prefrontal cortex is part of the human brain” which is in frontal side and it have most of the important role of emotion and decision-making and person which have defect of prefrontal cortex (VMPFC) in generally they cannot regulate emotion and of course they are danger to public safety and second amygdala which “is one of the main components of the limbic system, which play a key role is various emotions such as aggression, pleasure, and amygdala is responsible for preventing any external threat by sending threatening stimuli to the body.”
All brain have two amygdala and if the brain has a deficit of amygdala that means the person will have big emotion problem. The emotion most of the important problem is psychopathy, but we cannot ignore antisocial reaction in the people Robert J. Blair which makes composition and analyze of VIM he said that the VIM is responsible in person, in pain, distress and etc. also according to his theory “psychopath which have antisocial reaction they have defect of VIM violence inhibition mechanism” and also Mr. Robert J. Blair thinks “psychopaths in prison or children with psychopathic tendency are less receptive to the distress that others non-psychopath individuals” per his theory in psychopathy there is genetic problem which is responsible for violation and emotion which can make individuals a guilty in the life.
According to statistic we can say very easily psychopathy they are sexual offenders “they found that 6.3% had been convicted for extrafamilial molesting, 6.3% for mixed molesting, 10.8 % for incest, 35.9 % for raping and 64 % for raping and molesting” and also we can say that for psychopath target are children and as well adults but based on research they psychopath might not understand moral feeling or responsibility of the law. they have its own personal mentality and they might do not feel anything for general life that why they have antisocial behaviors.
To make some treatment and rehabilitation for psychopath it is almost impossible because they poorly understand social life. For treatment, it is almost impossible to change psychopaths life but I found there are some psychological programs which cause a little bit influence for a psychopath. Ms. Paula M. Mackenzie, Psy.D, Doctor of Psychology (Clinical psychology) she explains “psychopathy personality and behavioral characteristics” according to her article psychopath have very impulsive and active characteristics which are concentrate for law violation.
Psychopath Characteristics (particular qualities):
- Glibness /superficial charm
- Grandiose senses of self-worth
- Need for stimulation/proneness to boredom
- Pathological lying
- Conning and manipulative
- Lack of remorse or guilt
- Shallow affect
- Callous and lack of Empathy
- Parasitic lifestyle
- Poor behavioral Controls
- Promiscuous behavior
- Early behavioral problems
- Lack of realistic short-term goals
- Fails to take responsibility for one’s actions
- Many short term marital/interpersonal relationships
- Juvenile delinquency
- Revocation of conditional release
- Criminal versatility.
(Hare, R.D., 1993, P.69)
All this mentioned behaviors force psychopath for the crime. Most of the important problem is that the psychopaths are more aggressive based on research, they do not have control of the brain because they have a disabled brain which is responsible for the emotion “Psychopaths can be adept at imitating emotions that they believe will mitigate their punishment.”
In psychopathy how I mentioned we have the “brain dysfunctions” (DLPFC) people who have a deficit of (DLPFC) they do not understand or ignore moral rules, the requirement of the law, they have long plans and goals and they have an own point of view. Also PCL-R it is a good evidence in the court but PCL-R has some restriction based on the law for example “it is very important to remember that the PCL-R is used in only appropriate settings and is not misused by prosecutors or defenders to promote their agendas in court settings. Using it in these instances can be very destructive as the psychopath label as a very negative connotation and this can have a significant impact on the jurors” (Rendell et all., 2010) The prosecutors are using accordingly as an evidence in the legal system if somebody has that syndromes.
USA and Canada Litigation for Psychopaths
This all news which I used to speak about already changed “criminal law hardscape” especially in north America (Canada and the United States) because in Europe there is not still huge practice for that. In north American judges follow double edge factors which have two sides. “retributive justice and utilitarian justice” the retributive justice idea means just dessert criminal acts because to protect public and public safety from criminals.
This theory is more concentration for punishing criminal offenders than help him for rehabilitation this punishment is as an aggravating let’s say “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” and second utilitarian justice is mean the point is to punishment must be as rehabilitation. According to statistic “many jurors considered such evidence defendant’s mental illness an aggravating circumstance, even when the defense team presents such evidence as mitigating.”
The practice in north America shows mostly jurors used mental illness as an aggravating factor. For many criminologies, sometimes it is confusing why psychopath is aggravating factor if we will take psychopath brain as a disable brain or psychopathy as a mental disorder or illness high sentencing for psychopath will be a punishment and not for rehabilitation. Based on European Human right court practice it is very clear if Europe starts to us psychopath factor in the legal system it will be a mitigating factor. In the case of State vs. Brian Dugan, the attorney present evidence as “ the brain of a psychopath is not normal” for death penalty case. per practice, there are many cases for a psychopath, for example, judges sometimes uses biomedical evidence to avoid the death penalty. If a psychopath has “Psychopath lobe abnormalities” that might be for sentencing as mitigating factor especially for death penalties.
In Canada, there is not the death penalty, but “frontal lobes abnormalities” cannot be ignored before sentencing by the judge. According to article 12 of Canada. “everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice” it is very interesting article in which mean idea is that the court cannot ignore person’s liberty at any point but that does not mean psychopath factor judges considered as mitigating factor. In the case of Q vs.
Bishop court considered psychopath as an aggravating factor. if we will take psychopath as a mental illness or brain disable person and we cannot ignore that the psychopath needs treatment in the prison and according to article 12 “everyone has the right not to be subjected to any cruel and unusual treatment or punishment” and above case the attorney said that treatment which is important for psychopath it did not was in the federal prison and suddenly “the court of appeals rejected this argument” the reason to why court rejected this argument I think it is that the role of psychopath in legal system is as an aggravating and judges are concentrate to protect public safety from psychopaths but for future the court might will change this some decisions, of course.
It Is impossible to prove for 100 % sure that the role of psychopath in the legal system must to be an aggravating factor but I think court cannot ignore disable brain of psychopath. Many lawmakers, lawyers, jurors they think psychopath have to be punished like he deserves but they do not pay attention punishment will be like “cruel” to them which I already mention the treating program is not available in federal prison that why many times in the prison there are a lot of fact of suicide.
In Canada January 1, 2007, to December 31, 2012, there was many cases which involved psychopathy checklist per statistic it was more than 200 cases and from there the 47 cases for sentencing was based on “offenders characteristics, age at first arrest, number of prior offences, ethnicity, current charge, history of addiction, current employment, previous hospitalization for mental health issues as well as any mental health diagnosis.” It seems judges are looking to find if psychopath have any kind of problem and per statistic, it is very clear that judges are using before final decision all above information to check the background of a psychopath.
For conclusion I would say that the role of psychopath In the legal system is not practical even we do not know role of psychopath is mitigating or aggravating factor because as I mentioned practice is different sometimes psychopath is aggravating sometimes mitigating I think for that the court needs a little bit more practice but most of biggest problem is that if we will take psychopath brain as “disable brain” it will totally change legal practice in North America.
- Psychopathy and Sentencing: An Investigative look into when the PCL-R is admitted into Canadian courtrooms and how a PCL-R score affects sentencing outcome Author: Katie Davey The University of Western Ontario
- Psychopathic Disorders and Judges Sentencing: Can Neurosciences Change This Aggravating Factor in a Mitigating Factor? Author: Kevin Moustapha
- Psychopathy, Antisocial Personality & Sociopathy: The Basics A History Review Author: Paula M. MacKenzie, PsyD, MSEd
Author : LASHA SEPHERTELADZE , Harvard University (USA), 2018
ID number 91263289