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A cause for compassion: Understanding and applying neurobiological factors associated with psychopathy

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Thesis type
(Thesis) M.A.
Date created
Psychopaths have neurobiological irregularities which are manifested by learning and fear processing deficits and neurotransmitter abnormalities. These irregularities influence the behaviours of psychopaths and help explain their propensity to engage in antisocial behaviour. It is argued that these factors should mitigate criminal responsibility for the actions of psychopathic offenders. An analysis of sentencing hearings for offenders wih psychopathy and fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) in British Columbia, Ontario, and Nova Scotia is presented to illustrate that psychopathy is often perceived as an aggravating factor, while this is not the case for FASD, which shares some common traits with psychopathy. This indicates a lack of internal consistency in the sentencing of offenders with neurobiological impairments. In an attempt to rectify this problem, potential sentencing alternatives are discussed, focusing on alternatives that would safeguard the public from dangerous psychopaths, while also protecting the rights of psychopathic offenders as individuals with neurobiological dysfunctions.
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Supervisor or Senior Supervisor
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