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The Science of Addiction and Criminal Law

Morse, Stephen J. JD, PhD

doi: 10.1097/HRP.0000000000000150
Perspectives
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Although there is debate in the scientific and clinical literature about how much choice addicts have concerning the use of drugs and related activities, this article demonstrates that Anglo-American criminal law is most consistent with the position that addicts have substantial choice about engaging in crimes involving their addiction. It suggests that the criminal law’s approach is consistent with plausible and reasonable current scientific and clinical understanding of addiction and is therefore defensible, but it also suggests that the law is unduly harsh and far from optimum.

From the University of Pennsylvania Law School; Department of Psychiatry, Perelman School of Medicine.

Original manuscript received 9 August 2016; revised manuscript received 30 August 2016, accepted for publication subject to revision 15 November 2016; revised manuscript received 21 December 2016.

Correspondence: Stephen J. Morse, JD, PhD, University of Pennsylvania Law School, 3501 Sansom St., Philadelphia, PA 19104. Email: smorse@law.upenn.edu

© 2017 President and Fellows of Harvard College
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