skip navigation


Register for Latest Research

Stay Informed
Register with NCJRS to receive NCJRS's biweekly e-newsletter JUSTINFO and additional periodic emails from NCJRS and the NCJRS federal sponsors that highlight the latest research published or sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs.

NCJRS Abstract

The document referenced below is part of the NCJRS Virtual Library collection. To conduct further searches of the collection, visit the Virtual Library. See the Obtain Documents page for direction on how to access resources online, via mail, through interlibrary loans, or in a local library.


NCJ Number: 157063 Add to Shopping cart Find in a Library
Title: Considering Lead Poisoning as a Criminal Defense
Journal: Fordham Urban Law Journal  Volume:20  Issue:3  Dated:(1993)  Pages:377-400
Author(s): D W Denno
Date Published: 1993
Page Count: 24
Sponsoring Agency: National Institute of Justice (NIJ)
Washington, DC 20531
US Dept of Justice NIJ Pub
Washington, DC 20531
Grant Number: 85-IJ-CX-0034
Type: Research (Applied/Empirical)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This essay describes a biosocial study that was conducted to examine biological, sociological, and environmental predictors of crime and considers the viability of establishing a lead poisoning criminal defense in light of the biosocial study's finding of a significant relationship between lead poisoning and three variables indicating behavioral problems at different ages (adult crime, juvenile crime, and disciplinary problems in school).
Abstract: The biosocial study a sample of 487 black males who were born in Philadelphia between 1959 and 1962. Data were collected from school records and police records. Three different measures of juvenile and adult crime were employed: number of offenses, categorization of juvenile offenders according to the most serious offense recorded, and offense seriousness. The study focused on biological, sociological, and environmental influences on crime. Findings showed that the number and seriousness of juvenile offenses strongly predicted adult crime. Juvenile crime was most strongly predicted by disciplinary problems in school, evidence of lead poisoning, amount of time fathers were unemployed, and evidence of abnormal speech and low language achievement. Disciplinary problems in school were most strongly predicted by lead poisoning, anemia, and left-handedness. The study indicated that lead poisoning was pervasive among blacks in urban communities and that it was linked to disciplinary problems and aggression. The author concludes that a lead poisoning criminal defense may be viable if a jury determines that the lead effect significantly contributed to the defendant's loss of control. The issue of criminal responsibility is discussed in the context of the insanity defense. 112 footnotes and 1 table
Main Term(s): Criminology
Index Term(s): Adult offenders; Biological influences; Black/African Americans; Courts; Crime prediction; Criminal responsibility; Environmental influences; Insanity defense; Juvenile offenders; Juvenile to adult criminal careers; Longitudinal studies; Pennsylvania; Psychological research; Sociological analyses
To cite this abstract, use the following link:

*A link to the full-text document is provided whenever possible. For documents not available online, a link to the publisher's website is provided. Tell us how you use the NCJRS Library and Abstracts Database - send us your feedback.