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Genetics & Sentencing Simon Easteal John Curtin School of Medical Research, ANU. Judge for yourself A Guide to Sentencing in Australia Published by the Judicial Conference of Australia. Is genetics relevant to the purposes of sentencing?. Punishment Rehabilitation Specific deterrence

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slide1

Genetics & Sentencing

Simon Easteal

John Curtin School of Medical Research, ANU

slide2

Judge for yourself

A Guide to Sentencing in Australia

Published by the Judicial Conference of Australia

slide3

Is genetics relevant to the purposes of sentencing?

Punishment

Rehabilitation

Specific deterrence

General deterrence

Denunciation

Community Protection

Restorative justice

slide4

Do advances in our understanding of human genetics raise issues relevant to sentencing?

Can these issues be dealt with within the existing system of judicial discretion including consideration of mitigating and aggravating factors and the use of specialist courts?

after a two year visit to the united states michelangelo s david is returning to italy

... being applied to disorders that are much more common

and

in which there is an interaction of genetic and environmental factors

After a two year visit to the United States, Michelangelo's David is returning to Italy ...
slide10

Sunday 27 December 2009 00.17 GMT

All prisoners to be tested for ADHD

Research shows one in five suffers from the condition but is not diagnosed

Police, courts and prisons will test all adult offenders for attention deficit disorders in a bid to reduce reoffending rates and cut aggressive behaviour in prisons.

The scheme is being set up by the Department of Health after research revealed a disproportionately high number of undiagnosed and untreated sufferers in the criminal justice system.

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Adult ADHD is characterised by poor executive functioning

  • Disorganisation
  • Poor time perception
  • Poor time management
  • Forgetfulness, especially for tasks that need to be done
  • Failure to plan ahead & anticipate
  • Dificulty keeping track of several things at once
  • Difficulty completing tasks
  • Impulsive decision making
  • Problems keeping promises and commitments
  • Inability to shift from ongoing activity to a more important or urgent tasks

Barkley RA (2010) Attention Deficit Hyperactivity in Adults. Jones & Bartlett

slide12

Adults with ADHD can also be unusually:

  • Adventurous
  • Intense
  • Humorous
  • Insightful
  • Creative
  • Open to new ideas
  • Divergent in their thinking
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It’s very common

in children ...

7.4%

US Birth cohort (N=5718);

Barbaresi WJ et al. (2002) Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med 156:217-24.

8.7%

US National Representative Sample (N=3082);

Froehlich et al. (2007) Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med 161:857-64.

8.5%

Finnish Birth cohort (N=6620);

Smalley et al. (2007) J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry 46:1575-83

... and in adults

Male:Female =1.5

Fayyad J. et al. (2007) Brit J Psychiat. 190:402-9;

WHO WMH Survey

slide14

It’s highly heritable

Spencer et al. 2007. J Pediat Psychol. 32:631-642

slide15

A number of genes are reliably associated with it

Biederman J. & Faraone SV. 2005. Lancet 366:237-48

slide16

It’s a treatable condition

Clinical trail results

Biederman J. & Faraone SV. (2005) Lancet 366:237-48

Epidemiological evidence

73% episodes of treatment with stimulant medication associated with favourable response.

Birth cohort to 17yr. N=379.

Barbaresi et al. 2006. J Dev Behav Pediatr 27:1-10.

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... which remains largely untreated.

  • In Western Australia
    • All Children 2.2% treated
    • All Adults 0.4% treated

Stimulant Prescribing and Usage Patterns for the Treatment of ADHD in Western Australia (1 August 2003 – 31 December 2004)

Department of Health, Western Australia. 2005

... which implies:

Untreated ADHD

Children >65%

Adults >90%

slide18

General Health

Greater use of the health care system

More sick days

Barkley RA (2010) Attention Deficit Hyperactivity in Adults. Jones & Bartlett

slide19

Mental Health

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder;

Suicidality

Barkley RA (2010) Attention Deficit Hyperactivity in Adults. Jones & Bartlett

Biederman et al. (2004) Biol Psychiatr 55:692-700

Brown T (ed) (2009) ADHD Comorbidities

slide20

Relationship & employment problems

  • Workplace diffculties:
  • Following instructions,
  • Getting along with coworkers,
  • Meeting deadlines,
  • Managing large workloads
  • Concentrating
  • Paying attention

Barkley RA (2010) Attention Deficit Hyperactivity in Adults. Jones & Bartlett

Biederman et al. (2004) Biol Psychiatr 55:692-700

slide21

More serious accidents

  • More frequent accidents
  • More work-related accidents
  • More accidents at home
  • Less stable work history
  • Lower quality of life
  • More criminal activity
  • More arrests
  • Greater rates of recidivism
  • Greater incarceration rate

General functional problems

Fayyad J. et al. (2007) Brit J Psychiat. 190:402-9;

WHO WMH Survey

Able et al. (2007) Psychol Med 37:97-107

Barkley RA (2010) Attention Deficit Hyperactivity in Adults. Jones & Bartlett

Rasmussen & Levander (2008) J. Attent. Disord.

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“Every community needs to devote a good deal of time and energy to producing a justice system that is as logical, rational, sensible and effective as possible”

Judge for yourself

A Guide to Sentencing in Australia

Published by the Judicial Conference of Australia

A logical, rational, sensible and effective justice systems needs to account for the heritable psychological diversity that is an intrinsic aspect of human nature

slide25

Our brutal past

“But we slowly learned the inescapable truth; brutal punishment creates angrier and more violent people.” ... “Today sentencing laws are designed to be much more effective as well as humane.”

Judge for yourself

A Guide to Sentencing in Australia

Published by the Judicial Conference of Australia

Psychological genetics can inform the development of even more effective and humane sentencing laws, by clarifying the interplay between innate predispositions and life circumstances in shaping individual behaviour and response to intervention.