Unconventional Methods for a Traditional Setting: The Use of Neurointerventions to Reduce Implicit Racial Bias in the Courtroom
The presumption of innocence and the right to a fair trial lie at the core of the United
States justice system. While existing rules and practices serve to uphold these principles,
the administration of justice is significantly compromised by a covert but influential
factor: namely, implicit racial biases. These biases can lead to automatic associations
between race and guilt, as well as impact the way in which judges and jurors interpret
information throughout a trial. Despite the well-documented presence of implicit racial
biases, few steps have been taken to ameliorate the problem in the courtroom setting.
This paper suggests that neurointerventions, such as computerized brain-training tasks
and noninvasive brain stimulation techniques, have the potential to provide promising
mitigation strategies in the near future. Through analyzing the various ethical and legal
considerations, this paper contends that the use of neurointerventions with judges would
be both justifiable and morally obligatory should safe and effective means become
available. A similar argument is put forth for jurors, albeit in a more theoretical light due
to practical and logistical barriers. Given that implicit racial biases can seriously
undermine the fairness of the justice system, this paper ultimately asserts that
unconventional de-biasing methods warrant legitimate attention and consideration.
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