Chapter Nineteen FORENSIC PSYCHOLOGY 1. What historical events influenced the development of forensic psychology specialty? 2. What are the major roles engaged in by forensic psychologists? 3. What are the similarities and differences between the three major league standards of insanity? 4. What role might a clinical psychologist play in a child custody decision? 5. How might a forensic psychologist contribute to the following process: jury selection, preparing a witness, aiding an attorney who will cross- examine an eyewitness? Perspective and History Forensic Psychology involves “the application of the methods, theories, and concepts of psychology to the legal system” 1954 the Supreme Court finally paid attention to the social sciences: Brown v. Board of Education. Today psychologists regularly testify as experts in virtually every area of criminal, civil, family, and administrative law. See table 19.1 In 1978, the American Board of Forensic Psychology was established to help the public identify qualified practitioner and promote the discipline, has served to allay some of these concerns. In edition to being well trained in clinical psychology more generally, clinical psychologists specializing in forensic psychology must gain expertise in the law so that their testimony, consultation and research are well informed. Forensic Scientist follow the code of American Academy of Forensic Sciences – This code stresses • Completeness and accuracy in stating ones professional qualifications • Technical and scientific accuracy and honesty in reports and testimony • Impartiality Major Activities of Forensic Psychologists Expert Witness- can be anyone who can provide information that, by its uniqueness in relation to some science, profession, training, or experience, is unlikely to be known to the average juror. Bases of clinical psychological expertise include:education,formal training, and subsequent learning, relevant experience, research and publications, knowledge and application of scientific principles, and use of special tests and measurements. Expert testimony’s are not allowed to give conclusions as to the defendants; sanity or insanity. Criminal Cases Insanity Plea is seldom successful;defendant assumed responsible The burden of proof is on the defense. The defendant must prove that she or he was insane at the time of criminal offence. Insanity is a legal term. M’Naghten Rule- oldest standard – Successful insanity defense must prove that the person committed the unlawful act while “laboring under such a defect of reason, from disease of the mind, as not to know the nature and quality of the act he was doing” Durham Standard- second standard – “accused is not criminally responsible if his unlawful act was the product of mental disease or mental defect.” Ali Standard- is viewed as the most liberal or expansive in that criminal responsibility can be excused if mental illness causes a lack of substantial capacity to understand what one is doing (a cognitive deficit) or an inability to control one’s behavior ( a volitional deficit). Hinckley case ( attempted assassination of Pres Reagan)- not guilty by reason of insanity verdict. Guilty but mentally ill verdict - convicted is sent to a psychiatric facility for treatment, and when judged sane, sent to prison to serve what is left of sentence. Questions of competency: – Can a person appreciate the nature of the charges – Can the person cooperate in a reasonable way with counsel – Can the person appreciate the proceedings of the court? Civil Cases Commitment to Mental Institutions- individual may be involuntarily detained for hours or days depending on particular state laws. – Involuntary commitment: against the will of the individual • Dangerous to self or others,disturbed or disabled as to be incapable of making responsible decisions about self- care and hospitalization, or requires treatment or care in a hospital – Voluntary commitment: individual agrees to admission and may leave at any time. Domestic Issues – Child Custody-”best interest of the child” – Custody evaluations- child’s development and psychological needs,each parent's;s strengths and limitations, and the way each member of the family interacts with each other. Rights of Patients Patients who are involuntarily hospitalized have a constitutional right to individualized treatment that offers them a realistic chance for “cure” or at least improvement. The courts have been less attentive to the rights of voluntary patients because it is assumed they can leave the hospital if they choose. Controversy lies in the right to refuse treatment or medication, not every involuntary hospitalized patient is mentally incompetent and these individuals have the right to decide their own fate. Predicting Dangerousness Therapists have the duty to protect potential victims from their patients’ violent behavior and as amoral imperative, we all have the obligation to protect others from those who are deemed dangerous. How accurately can psychologists or anyone else predict dangerous behavior? Since it is so difficult to make these predictions, psychological evaluations may constitute the largest single category requested by the justice system. Predicting cont…. Evaluations can range from predicting sexual violence, child abuse, and work place violence to predicting suicidal to homicidal behavior. These evaluations are used in defining whether or not a prisoner receives bail, sentencing options, and work-release status. Psychological Treatment The rights for prisoners getting psychological treatment or rehabilitation are still in a state of flux. When the right for psychological treatment is recognized, it is normally for adult prisoners who are severely disturbed mentally. Consultation There are several aspects of consultation. Jury selection- where a consulting psychologist works with attorneys to discover biases in different jurors. Jury shadowing- where the jury consultant hires analogous jurors to and monitors their reaction to the testimony presented in trial. Public Opinion Surveys- here, an attorney may hire a psychological consultant to determine the public’s eye recognition of some company’s name or symbol. Witness Preparation- The idea here is to help witnesses present their testimony better without changing the facts to which their testimony is directed. Research and Forensic Psychology Several areas of research have become particularly identified with Forensic psychology. In Eyewitness Testimony there has been extensive research and many recommendations so that the innocent are not convicted. In jury selection a great deal of research has been done on just how jurors make sense out of evidence and process information. The better we understand the conditions that affect how juries think and reach decisions, the better our judicial system will be.
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