To Use or Not to Use: No Consensus on Whether and How to Apply Genetic Information in the Justice System

Selita, Fatos; Chapman, Robert and Kovas, Yulia. 2019. To Use or Not to Use: No Consensus on Whether and How to Apply Genetic Information in the Justice System. Behavioral Sciences, 9(12), 149. ISSN 2076-328X [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Little is known about the public’s attitudes towards applying genetic information in the justice system. This study aimed to extend previous research to explore this among the general public and those with training in law. Data were collected from over 10,000 participants, including 486 lawyers and law students. We analysed eight available relevant items from the International Genetic Literacy and Attitudes Survey (iGLAS). The majority of participants viewed genetic information as relevant to justice. For example, 65% believed that we should make provisions (legal and policy) to buffer the effects of genetic disadvantage on individuals, and almost 60% believed that genetic information should be taken into account in sentencing. At the same time, many participants (70%) disagreed that genetic influences on behaviour negate free will. The results of the correlational analyses suggest that people who consider genetic information relevant in one context tend to consider it relevant across all aspects of the justice system, including in sentencing, crime prevention and access to justice. Overall, the results suggest that views on the use of genetics by justice systems are complex and widely varied. Further research is needed to understand these complex views.

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The research was funded by the Russian Foundation for Basic Research (RFBR) grant No. 18-29-14071


genetic information, justice system, sentencing, free will

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6 December 2019Accepted
10 December 2019Published

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Date Deposited:

11 Dec 2019 13:15

Last Modified:

03 Aug 2021 15:04

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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