Brains On Trial with Alan Alda
The robbery of a convenience store goes horribly wrong and the suspect, newly 18-years-old, is now on trial for attempted murder. The case is fiction but the scenario is all too real. As the trial gets underway, Alan Alda speaks with both legal experts and scientists to determine if new developments in neuroscience could assist the criminal justice system. By visiting and participating in a dozen experiments, Alda gains insights into how and what the jurors, judges, witnesses and attorneys are thinking - insights that may one day influence how the criminal justice system operates. At a time when the incarceration rate in the US is five times higher than most other nations, the question of whether insights from neuroscience can help reform our criminal justice system is critical.
Determining Guilt (#101H) Duration: 56:46 STEREO TVPG-V
On trial is Jimmy Moran, who at 18 took part in a store robbery during which the storeowner's wife was shot and grievously injured. Presiding is distinguished US District Judge Jed S. Rakoff, who has a longstanding interest in neuroscience and its conceivable effect on criminal law. The trial raises common questions: Is a witness lying? How reliable is eyewitness testimony? What's the best way to avoid a biased jury? How well can the defendant's intentions be judged? Alan Alda explores how brain-scanning technology is providing insights into these questions and discusses the implications of neuroscience entering the courtroom.
Deciding Punishment (#102H) Duration: 56:46 STEREO TVPG-V
Jimmy Moran is found guilty of badly injuring a woman during a robbery. In the sentencing phase of the trial, Judge Rakoff hears arguments from the court-appointed psychiatrist, the attorneys, the victim's husband and Jimmy himself. Meanwhile, Alan Alda discovers how neuroscience is already influencing the sentencing of defendants - especially young defendants - by revealing how the immature teenage brain is vulnerable to foolish and impulsive acts. Before Judge Rakoff pronounces Jimmy's sentence, Alda meets a judge who has volunteered to have his own brain probed as he makes sentencing decisions.