Evaluationof a Forensic Psychological Report
Forensicpsychology use has increased rapidly in current years, largelybecause of the fictitious television programs like “Castle” and“Criminal Minds” where profiling of criminals and crimes toelaborate the personality description of criminals is shown. However,forensic psychology is also becoming important in providing lawenforcement with psychological profile of criminals to enhance theprocess of assessing criminals and their eligibility for parole.
Keywords:forensic, psychology, crimes, profile, parole, law, personality.
Evaluationof a Forensic Psychological Report
Theattention given to forensic psychology has increased rapidly inpresent years, mainly because of such television programs as “Castle”and “Criminal Minds” where profilers of crimes have a psychicability to provide elaborate individual behavior and personalitydescription of perpetrators (Wrightsman & Fulero, 2008). However,this is a huge misconception of the aim of forensic psychologist andleads to confusion concerning who and what a forensic psychologistdoes. Because forensic psychology is still a field in its infancywithin psychology, it is having challenges in providing exceptionalpsychological evaluation of individuals. Hence, it will be best tobegin with a definition. Forensic psychology is considered theintersection between the justice and psychology system (Beech &Davies, 2012). The focus is on the application of specialties in theclinical sense that include evaluation, assessment and treatment inindividuals and legal institutions that come into contact with law(Beech & Davies, 2012). Examples of the application of forensicpsychology include Elizabeth Loftus’ studies on identification ofeyewitness and study on memory of children and their ability totestify by Stephen Ceci (Walker, 2005). Therefore, the forensicpsychological practice and the many duties of forensic psychologistshave to do with psychological assessment and evaluation of people whoare involved with the legal system.
Thedefinition of forensic psychology above is enlightening because itemphasizes on assessment, evaluation and treatment on individuals andthis can be applied on numerous psychological reports and cases. Inour forensic psychological report discussion, a Hispanic male of 37years old known as Mr. Smith is being transferred to a department ofcorrections to be assessed by an evaluator because he is presentlyserving a six year sentence for first degree robbery and seconddegree assault. This is considered his second offence because his2001 records at the department of corrections show that he hadpreviously served a two year sentence for armed robbery. In addition,it is reasonable to portray Mr. Smith as unstable man who has nowcommitted two crimes and it is important for the evaluator to assesshim to find out the reasons as to why he has committed these seriouscrimes for the reasons of helping the Board of Parole to determinehis suitability for parole and assess the risk he possess to thecommunity for re-offense.
Details of Mr. Smith’s Report
Thereport was originally used to identify details of Mr. Smith’scriminal life. His identifying information is suitable to illustratethe type of criminal he is. In this case, he is described as 37 yearold married Hispanic male who is presently serving a six yearsentence for first degree robbery and second degree assault. Anotherdetail in this report has to do with his previous two year sentencewith the department of corrections in 2001 for armed robbery. Furtherdetails concerning Mr. Smith comes from his mental status interviewinformation. In the interview, he was appropriate and cooperativethroughout the process. He amply expressed himself and maintained eyecontact. There were no signs of neurological limitations because hisspeech was within normal limits. Moreover, he was alert throughoutthe two hours interview duration. During the interview, he did notexhibit signs of thought disorder or perceptual disturbance and heresponded to internal and external stimuli. Also, in the interview,he denied any considerations of wanting to harm others or himself anddenied present homicidal or suicidal thoughts.
Moredetails concerning Mr. Smith details in the report come from hisinstitutional programming. In this programming, he has not receivedbehavioral violations. Mr. Smith joined a therapy group andparticipated actively. In addition, he accepted a work for payposition and completed 12 educational units. In his self-assessment,Mr. Smith considers himself as undergoing set-backs as a result ofhis transfer to the facility. He made his intention of cooperatingwith staff and remaining positive even though he has been diagnosedwith antisocial personality disorder. His resolution to end hiscriminal life is attributed to his image being portrayed as acriminal to his daughter and his commitment to let other inmates torealize that criminal life is not appropriate. Moreover, his reportdetails on his parole plans if granted release are numerous. He plansto reunite with his girlfriend living in a rented house in Denver inthe city of his release, who he has been in a relationship with forestimated 9 years. His release will see him regain contact with hisdaughter who lives with her grandmother in Whittier. He plans toraise his daughter with money saved from his savings account that hisgirlfriend opened for him. He intends to start working in aconstruction company when he is released. In his records, there is nohistory of parole violations.
Eventhough he has been involved in group therapy and learnt useful skillsin coping with stressful circumstance and other ways of makingfinancial gains, he is not sure he will not try anything stupidagain. Mr. Smith’s substance abuse details in his report show alength history of alcohol abuse. This he attributed to occur when heengaged in criminal activities. However, he has been sober ever sincehis admission to the department of corrections all credit to the AAprogram that has helped him to stay sober. In the report, he admittedthat alcoholism is an illness in his life, but voiced his dedicationto remaining sober in the community. His sobriety from alcoholism inthe report has been described as him participating in chemicaldependency treatment as a term of his parole to ensure he completelyrecovers from alcoholism. These details are significant to anevaluator who wants to provide the Board of Parole with an opinioncoming from a professional angle as to Mr. Smith’s suitability forparole and risk to the community for re-offense.
Utilizationof Mr. Smith’s Report
Thissummary above of Mr. Smith’s report points to details that areuseful to professionals and individuals in other fields. The legalprofession is an example of an institution that can utilize thisreport to either allow for parole or deny it depending on findingsmaterializing. In the case of Mr. Smith, it is apparent that he is arisk to the society because of his criminal behavior especially whenhe indulges in alcohol. However, from the legal point of view, hisforensic psychological assessment suggests that he is at a low riskof committing the crime again. This is because of the forensicpsychological details available in the report explaining that he is aperson who is reforming from his criminal activities and alcoholism.
Inanother example, in 1888 in England, it was deemed to be not safe towalk in the London streets of Whitechapel because of a caller knownas “Jack the Ripper” who stalked and killed about sevenprostitutes (Keppel, Weis, Brown, & Welch, 2005). He would killthe women before dissecting them letting people find their bodies.This was considered the first case that forensic psychology utilizedthe assessment and evaluation method of profiling in an attempt tocatch and arrest the serial killer. Some of the forensic psychologyassessment made by a police surgeon known as George Philips was thatthe killed victims had their internal organs removed with a precisionthat could be attained by a medical trained personnel or a butcher(Wolf, 2008). Even though these assessments were made, police werenever successful in capturing the killer. The importance here is thatforensic psychology profiling and assessment helped the police toevaluate with precision that the killer of the prostitute was serialkiller coming from a background of a medical person or a personworking as a butcher.
Forensicpsychology is also applied in other cases. Wright and Bundy, who wereconsidered predatory killers, took the chance to strike with the firmbelieve they will never be caught (Keenan, 2013). Doctor Charlesdescribes the two killers’ psychological profile as not havingremorse or sympathy for killing. This information is significant toindividuals living in the neighborhood and police who are searchingfor killers. This is because a psychological profile will assist indistinguishing the people who are deemed unfit in the society andalso the police will get more informed decision to advise individualson areas to avoid. In addition, the police would be able to help akiller to reform after knowing their forensic psychological details.
Qualityand Readability of This Report
ThisMr. Smith’s detail report has several quality and readability thatmake it easily understandable to the legal system and otherprofessionals such as counselors, prison correctional staffs, orparents of the individual in question. In this report, thearrangement of the content is in a sequential manner, where there isan introduction to introduce the problem the report is reporting downto summary of opinion where recommendations and conclusions areexplained. The quality of the report is highlighted in several ways.The topic has clearly defined that the intention of the report ispsychological evaluation and risk assessment of Mr. Smith’s parole.Critic according to Jones (2001), is what the ready is interested inhearing the assessment of an article. In this report, the topic hasbeen critic properly especially when looking at Mr. Smith’sinterview information and diagnosis of his criminal conditions.According to Metcalfe (2002), quality analysis is the author’sparticular concern on a specific topic and allows for ease inreadability. This critic in the report has been analyzed especiallythe violence risk assessment and understanding Mr. Smith’s violencerisk to the community has been easy because of the ease inreadability in the way the violence risk assessment has been written.
Also,the quality and readability of the report is highlighted in thediagnosis of Mr. Smith’s alcohol disorder and legal problem, andhis violence risk assessment. This diagnosis and risk assessment aresignificant because they provide a picture of the intensity of Mr.Smith’s dependency to alcohol and the predication of his futureviolence to alert the Board of Parole whether he is a risk to thecommunity or not. Presently in the world, the risk of Ebola has beendiagnosed to be extremely dangerous to individuals because of itslethal effects, where assessments have been made that a person whohas severe flu-like symptoms coming from Ebola stricken countries maycontract the disease (Peters, 1999). Towards the end of the report,the summary opinion illustrates recommendations and conclusions ofthe report. This is vital because it explains the findings of thereport that should be implemented in Mr. Smith’s case. ICMJE (2014)agrees to this where the results are discussed and recommendationsare made in discussions.
Althoughthe report presents the benefits of quality and readability for theBoard of Parole to make informed decision concerning whether Mr.Smith is a risk to the community, there are several information thatare absent from the report. This absent information includes methods,introductions and units of measurements. Let us start with methods.The principle that guides the methods provides clarity about why andhow the study will be done in a specific way (Povee & Roberts,2014). In the report, information concerning methods is missing, inparticular in the beginning of the report where there is no clarityon how the report will be written. For instance, the report juststarted by identifying the information and the problem withoutproviding a guideline on how the report will be written from thebeginning to the end. Also, there is no introduction at the beginningof the report concerning what forensic psychology is all about andexamples of where it has been applied to. Introduction has beendefined as a way of providing a background or context for study andthis is where particular research purpose and objectives are stated(Povee & Roberts, 2014).
Infact, the only example where forensic psychology has been applied isin this report of Mr. Smith concerning psychology profiling todetermine whether he is a risk to other individuals in the communityor not. Moreover, units of measurements was also absent in thereport. The importance of units of measurements is that it allowsgauging a specific problem for specific purposes. For example, in thereport there is no way to establish measurements that indicateimprovements of Mr. Smith criminal behavior. The significance here isthat establishing a unit of measurement will allow the Board ofParole to know or identify whether Mr. Smith will become a risk tothe community or not. The unit of measurements that could have beenutilized includes time of recovery and days without alcoholism amongothers.
Recommendationsfor Treatment Plan
Inthe report, there are recommendations that have been suggested in thesummary opinion section that can be utilized to develop a treatmentplan for criminals who abuse substance such as alcohol among others.The first step in the treatment plan is to introduce and implementsome form of treatment program that will aid criminals to recoverfrom alcoholism. One such treatment that can be included in thetreatment program is chemical dependency treatment. This can be usedbecause in the report it is portrayed to have helped Mr. Smith in hisrecovery from substance abuse. Second, in addition to the treatmentprogram using chemical dependency treatment, psychological issuessuch as depression could be addressed. This is because like Mr.Smith, many criminals have experienced depressive issues and usesubstance to cope with depressive experiences. Therefore,psychological treatment for depressive symptomology is important intreating criminals with a history of substance abuse.
Inthe third step of the treatment plan, psychological issues ofsubstance abuse are hard to get rid of. Hence, it is vital for atreatment plan to introduce and implement anti-depressant. This isbecause, like in the report, Mr. Smith has been seen to struggle withdepressive features which to him recommendations have been made totake anti-depressant. The fourth step is to consider criminals whomay relapse back to substance abuse. Therefore, a follow-up ofcriminals who have been released will ensure they do not go back tosubstance abuse that leads them to criminal activities. One way toensure this is to give released criminals purpose in life. In thefifth step, transitional program can be implemented to ensurereleased criminals are not having difficulties getting employment tosustain themselves. The final sixth step is to introduce a treatmentplan that uplifts the behaviors and attitudes of released criminalsin a positive way that is acceptable in the community. In the report,Mr. Smith’s engagement with staff members increased his knowledgeof what empathy to others means. This if implemented in the treatmentplan will change the way individuals view others.
QuestionsThat the Court Will Likely Ask the Evaluator
Itis likely that the evaluator will be asked many questions concerningthe psychological profile or status of a criminal before parole isconsidered. Before coming up with the questions, it is significant toexamine missing information in the report. One missing information isthe units of measurement of the level of rehabilitation of acriminal. For instance, it is important to gauge the level ofrecovery or rehabilitation by looking at the time of recovery anddays without alcoholism required to deem a criminal rehabilitated.The questions the court may ask include what is the history of thecriminal? What is the violence risk assessment of the criminal? Howwill you define the change of behavior and attitude of the criminal?Is the criminal a danger to society? Is there any history of relapseof substance abuse concerning the criminal? These questions aresignificant because they will build psychological profile ofcriminals.
Forensicpsychology has been seen in the discussion to be vital in profilingcriminals for legal requirements and for counseling purposes toensure individuals do not pose a danger to themselves and the peoplearound them in the community. The report concerning Mr. Smith haspointed out useful information that has shown that Mr. Smith is a lowrisk for further violence. This is because in the risk assessment heearned a score of nine that places him in a low risk range to beengaging in future violence related behaviors. Also, this is becausehe was given a rating of nine that places him in the low range ofreoffending. In the discussion, this report has been able to achieveits objective of providing a psychological profile of criminals forlegal requirement and individual requirement for counselors.
Beech,A. R. & Davies, G. M. (2012). ForensicPsychology: Crime, Justice, Law, Interventions.New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons.
Jones,B.J. (2001). Rhetoricand composition: Pennsylvania State University.Retrieved on March 23, 2004 fromhttp://www.personal.psu.edu/faculty/b/j/bjj6/ENGL015-2001Critique.html
ICMJE(2014). InternationalCommittee of Medical Journal Editors. Preparing for Submission.Retrieved fromhttp://www.icmje.org/recommendations/browse/manuscriptpreparation/preparing- for-submission.html
Keenan,A. (2013). Insidethe mind of a murderer: Forensic psychology expert reveals key toolsto solving crime. Retrieved fromhttp://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/real- life/inside-mind-murderer-forensic-psychology-1987828.
Keppel,R. D., Weis, J. G., Brown, K. M. & Welch, K. (2005). The Jack theRipper murders: a modus operandi and signature analysis of the1888–1891 Whitechapel murders. Journalof Investigative Psychology and Offender Profiling2(1): 1-21.
Metcalfe,M. (March, 2002). Preparinga critique of an article: Using argument as an inquiry.Retrieved on March 23, 2004 fromhttp://godot.unisa.edu.au/register/articles/5.doc
Peters,C. J. & Peters, J. W. (1999). An Introduction to Ebola: The Virusand the Disease. Journalof Infectious Diseases179(1).
Povee,K. & Roberts, L. (2014). Attitudes toward mixed methods researchin psychology: the best of both worlds? InternationalJournal of Social Research Methodology18(1): 41-57.
Walker,J. (2005). TraumaCinema: Documenting Incest and the Holocaust.California: University of California Press.
Wolf,G. (2008). A kidney from hell? A nephrological view of theWhitechapel murders in 1888. OxfordJournals,23 (10): 3343-3349.
Wrightsman,L. & Fulero, S. (2008). ForensicPsychology.Boston: Cengage Learning.