Thriving as a forensic psychologist

A nice arti­cle by William Foote PhD in APA’s Good Practice (Winter 2014) is worth a look for stu­dents who think they might be inter­ested in foren­sic psychology.

Contrasting clin­i­cal and foren­sic psy­chol­ogy, he writes, “But the field is not for everyone…Forensic psy­chol­ogy is also much more con­fronta­tional. You’re often in an adver­sar­ial posi­tion, with peo­ple who want to leave you dead on the wit­ness stand. “

”Thorough prepa­ra­tion is nec­es­sary because of the very high stakes involved, says Foote, ‘There’s not a sin­gle case we take on where there isn’t some sub­stan­tial amount of money or degree of lib­erty or dan­ger to the pub­lic at stake,’ he says.”

Competency Restoration in the State of Hawaii: An object lesson

Karen Franklin’s blog is the pre­mier site for ground-breaking issues in foren­sic psy­chol­ogy. Always worth­while and read­able, witty and bit­ing, some­times breath­tak­ing and bold. Her March 9, 2014, post addresses the recent scan­dal at Napa State Hospital in California, which serves the Northern California incom­pe­tent defen­dant and NGRI pop­u­la­tion, sim­i­lar to our Hawaii State Hospital. […]

Assessing Homicidal Mental States at the Time of Offense IV: The 2011 Norway Massacre: Criminal responsibility analysis using the R-CRAS.

The use of foren­sic assess­ment instru­ments is a dis­tin­guish­ing fac­tor in the qual­ity of foren­sic reports (Fuger, Acklin, Nguyen, Ignacio, & Gowensmith, 2013). In insan­ity deter­mi­na­tions, the Rogers Criminal Responsibility Assessment Scales (R-CRAS, PAR, Inc.) are with­out peer as an aide to orga­niz­ing and ana­lyz­ing case data. It is a sys­tem­atic cod­ing mea­sure which permits […]

Assessing Homicidal Mental States at the Time of Offense III: The 2011 Norway Massacre: The 2nd forensic psychiatric examination.

Based on pub­lic­ity and pro­fes­sional com­men­tary (“…intense media cov­er­age, with repeated requests for a new eval­u­a­tion by major news­pa­pers and politi­cians”), the court ordered a sec­ond foren­sic psy­chi­atric exam­i­na­tion of Breivik. It was con­ducted 6 months after the first exam­i­na­tion. The two psy­chi­a­trists “con­ducted a con­sid­er­ably longer eval­u­a­tion, and used addi­tional psy­cho­log­i­cal assess­ment instru­ments.” They […]

Assessing Homicidal Mental States at the Time of Offense: The 2011 Norway Massacre II: The 1st forensic psychiatric examination.

The first exam­i­na­tion con­ducted by two psy­chi­a­trists included 13 inter­views (36 hours total), review of police inter­ro­ga­tions, and col­lat­eral inter­view with Breivik’s mother. They coded the mate­r­ial using the Norwegian ver­sion of the Mini-International Neuropsychiatric Interview Plus for ICD-10, and selected mod­ules of the Norwegian ver­sion of the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV (SCID-IV). Based […]

Assessing Homicidal Mental States at the Time of Offense: The 2011 Norway Massacre I: Background.

As a court appointed men­tal exam­iner, I am reg­u­larly asked to per­form men­tal state at the time of the offense (MSO) exam­i­na­tions when the court must make a deter­mi­na­tion of crim­i­nal respon­si­bil­ity. A sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of these cases involve the killing of another human being. High pro­file cases are often instruc­tive for men­tal exam­in­ers. The […]

Rind controversy redux: Psychological sequelae of adult-child sexual contact.

Forensic psy­chol­o­gists may be called upon to ren­der opin­ions con­cern­ing psy­cho­log­i­cal harm fol­low­ing adult-child sex­ual con­tact. Rind et al. (1998) exam­ined assumed prop­er­ties of CSA and found that psy­cho­log­i­cal harm is vari­able. They found that fam­ily envi­ron­ment was con­sis­tently con­founded with CSA, and explained con­sid­er­ably more adjust­ment vari­ance than CSA. CSA-adjustment rela­tions gen­er­ally became nonsignificant […]

Voluntariness of Confessions

Forensic psy­chol­o­gists work­ing in crim­i­nal pro­ceed­ings must be acquainted with the law and behav­ioral sci­ence of con­fes­sions. Voluntariness of con­fes­sions is a deep main­stay of con­fes­sion law, reflected in the Miranda deci­sion. Miranda requires that a con­fes­sion be vol­un­tary, know­ing, and intel­li­gent, though dis­crim­i­na­tion between the lat­ter two prongs is murky. On the issue of […]

Forensic toolbox: Assessment of Miranda waivers – the SAMA (Structured Assessment of Miranda Waivers).

The assess­ment of Miranda waivers is a com­mon task for the gen­eral prac­tice foren­sic psy­chol­o­gist. Up until recently, psy­chol­o­gists had Grisso’s Miranda mea­sure to uti­lize in these sit­u­a­tions (see Frumkin, et al, 2012). Richard Rogers and his col­leagues have recently released a sig­nif­i­cant new foren­sic assess­ment instru­ment mar­keted by PAR Inc. The SAMA com­prises five measures: • […]

VRAG Update

The VRAG is the grand­daddy of sta­tic vio­lence risk mea­sures. Regardless of the fact that most all sta­tic risk mea­sures per­form equiv­a­lently (the “cof­fee can” risk assess­ment, Kroner et al, 2005), the VRAG is the main­stay of vio­lence risk assess­ment. The authors update the VRAG with a sam­ple of 1,261 offend­ers, fewer than half of […]