Rehabilitating the sexual or violent psychopathic offender: rethinking the ethics of crime-preventing neurointerventions from a welfarist perspective

Year of award: 2019


  • Emma Dore-Horgan

    University of Oxford

Project summary

People who use substances who have been convicted of criminal activity are frequently required to undergo neuropharmacological interventions to support their rehabilitation while they are in the UK’s criminal justice system. It has been suggested that this practice should be extended to sexual and violent psychopathic offenders. 

There is widespread ethical debate about the use of interventions that act directly upon the brain, with arguments in their favour citing public protection as sufficient grounds for their use. I will approach this ethical debate from an often overlooked and underdeveloped perspective by exploring whether the use of neurointerventions for violent psychopaths and sex offenders is ethically permissible because it could improve their welfare. I will consider whether criminal justice systems have a duty to develop, offer and perhaps even impose safe and effective neurointerventions as a condition of parole for some offenders.