Flawed Convictions: “Shaken Baby Syndrome” and the Inertia of Injustice
The emergence of Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS) presents an object lesson in the dangers that lie at the intersection of science and criminal law. As often occurs in the context of scientific knowledge understandings of SBS have evolved. We now know that the diagnostic triad alone does not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that an infant was abused or that the last person with the baby was responsible for the baby’s condition. Nevertheless our legal system has failed to absorb this new consensus. As a result innocent parents and caregivers remain incarcerated and perhaps more perplexingly triad-only prosecutions continue even to this day.
Flawed Convictions: “Shaken Baby Syndrome” and the Inertia of Injustice is the first book to survey the scientific cultural and legal history of Shaken Baby Syndrome from inception to formal dissolution. It exposes extraordinary failings in the criminal justice system’s treatment of what is in essence a medical diagnosis of murder. The story of SBS highlights fundamental inadequacies in the legal response to “science dependent prosecution.” A proposed restructuring of the law contends with the uncertainty of scientific knowledge.