William & Mary Law Review


Elizabeth Shaw


This Article discusses ways in which neuroscience should inform criminal sentencing in the future. Specifically, it compares the ethical permissibility of traditional forms of punishment, such as incarceration, on the one hand, and rehabilitative “neurointerventions” on the other. Rehabilitative neurointerventions are interventions that aim directly to modify brain activity in order to reduce reoffending. Various jurisdictions are already using techniques that could be classed as neurointerventions, and research suggests that, potentially, an even wider range of rehabilitative neurointerventions may be developed. This Article examines the role of human rights (in particular, the moral right to mental integrity and the legal right against degrading treatment) as a constraint on the state’s use of neurointerventions. It also discusses the extent to which traditional forms of punishment, such as incarceration, interfere with the right to mental integrity.