Unconventional Methods for a Traditional Setting: The Use of Neurointerventions to Reduce Implicit Racial Bias in the Courtroom

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Date

2015

Authors

Salmanowitz, Natalie Jane

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Farahany, Nita

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Abstract

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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Salmanowitz, Natalie Jane (2015). Unconventional Methods for a Traditional Setting: The Use of Neurointerventions to Reduce Implicit Racial Bias in the Courtroom. Master's thesis, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/10560.

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