According to behavioralist John Watson, human behavior is a product of both the situation and the person. Both are influenced by multiple internal and external factors which may include peer influence, poverty, mental illness, intellectual ability, trauma, adverse life experiences, imprisonment or substance abuse.
As a mitigation specialist, I understand the importance of these factors. The purpose of each mitigation investigation is to identify the individual's unique set of internal and external factors and analyze how their childhood experiences, cognitive abilities, social environment, genetic predisposition, and perception of themselves and the world influenced their behavior.
Mitigation allows for individualized sentencing that tailors the punishment to the specific circumstances and characteristics of the offender. Behavior cannot change unless the underlying reasons for the behavior are addressed. Although a person’s life story does not excuse their actions, it can provide insight into why they committed the crime and the circumstances surrounding it.
A fair and just system should accept nothing less than knowing the life of the person accused.