The ethical dilemma in zapping inmates’ brains

Mar 11, 2019, 7:56 AM EDT
(Source: Stefan/flickr)
(Source: Stefan/flickr)

If the Spanish authorities greenlight a controversial study, a team of scientists in the country could be soon firing electrical signals into the brains of inmates to examine if the technique, called transcranial direct current stimulation (TDCS), could suppress their aggression.

Designed to probe the potential role of neurointerventions in making the prison environment safer for the inmates and to aide offender rehabilitation, the contentious experiment brazenly flirts with ethical red lines, notes Vox.

It would be naive to think that a prisoner’s consent to such an invasive process will result from free will, reports Futurism. And even if it does, the approach rids the chronically “flawed prison systems” of the need to reform their processes and instead relies on the soft option of changing the brains of prisoners.

The philosophers on the other side of the divide, however, attach more value to neurointerventions as a futuristic tool to abolish mass incarceration.