Book Review: Genetics, Crime and Justice by Debra Wilson.

Author:Farzeen, Midhat
Position:Book review

Wilson, Debra. Genetics, Crime and Justice. Northampton: Edward Elgar, 2015. viii + 260 pages. Hardcover, $125.00.

In Genetics, Crime and Justice, Debra Wilson, a senior lecturer in the School of Law at New Zealand's University of Canterbury, dissects one of the most widely discussed dilemmas that started in the last century and is still under critique by scientists, lawyers, sociologists, ethicists, and human rights activists today. In her book, Wilson discusses how the advancements in scientific research and knowledge have increased our understanding of human genetics along with its implications for the criminal justice system.

This book examines the extent to which genes account for the criminality of an individual. The scientific evidence that supports this argument is laid out and the various ethical, sociological, and legal issues that originated as a result of such an understanding of 'the criminal gene' are discussed. The text also highlights the response of the criminal justice system to the genetic argument presented at court and its tendency to adapt accordingly.

In Genetics, Crime and Justice, Wilson raises a critical question regarding a civilized society's priority, that is, is protection from crime more important than an individual's right to be protected from unwanted invasion into his/her genetic makeup? This, in turn, results in other ethical dilemmas concerning confidentiality, the willingness of an individual to give a DNA sample, discrimination on the basis of genetics, and the influence of genetic evidence presented in court on verdicts and sentencing.

The book defines and examines 'the criminal gene' from various perspectives including criminal law, behavioural genetics, neuroscience, philosophy, and sociology. Wilson not only takes the reader through the historical background of this debate and the changes...

To continue reading