Does normative data represent the norm with respect to justice-involved men?

Clinical Neuropsychology

Justice-involved men appear to represent a distinct neuropsychological population. This is the bottom line of a recently published article in Archives of Clinical Neuropsychology. Below is a summary of the research and findings as well as a translation of this research into practice.

Featured Article | Archives of Clinical Neuropsychology | 2017, Vol. 40, No. 2, 1-14

The Neuropsychological Assessment of Justice-Involved Men: Descriptive Analysis, Preliminary Data, and a Case for Group-Specific Norms

Authors

Casey LaDuke, Drexel University, University of Virginia Health System
David DeMatteo, Drexel University
Kirk Heilbrun, Drexel University
Jennifer Gallo, Drexel University
Thomas Swirsky-Sacchetti, Jefferson Medical College

Abstract

Objective: Neuropsychological expertise has played an increasing role in legal decision-making in criminal contexts. Valid neuropsychological evidence in criminal forensic contexts requires normative data that are representative of justice-involved individuals. Unfortunately, existing normative data appear unlikely to represent justice-involved individuals due to significant demographic and clinical factors specific to this population. As a result, the interpretation of neuropsychological performance with justice-involved individuals using existing normative data may increase the risk of inaccurate description, invalid clinical conceptualization, misdiagnosis of impairment, and misattribution of deficits in functional-legal capacities. The current study aimed to examine the use of neuropsychological assessment with justice-involved men.
Method: A sample of incarcerated men (N = 95) was assessed using a battery of demographic, clinical, and neuropsychological measures.
Results: Descriptive analyses showed the demographic and clinical diversity of justice-involved men. Inferential statistical analyses, effect size calculations, and clinical analyses demonstrated that a sample of justice-involved men performed significantly differently and was more impaired than commonly referenced normative samples across multiple measures of intellectual functioning, attention, verbal fluency, and executive functioning. Preliminary data are provided to aid the use of the selected neuropsychological measures with justice-involved men.
Conclusions: Justice-involved men appear to represent a distinct neuropsychological population. Group-specific normative data will be useful to help ensure that opinions about these individuals are relevant, valid, and admissible within legal decision-making in criminal contexts. The current data can guide future efforts to develop substantive normative data on neuropsychological measures likely to be used in the assessment of justice-involved men.

Keywords

Forensic neuropsychology, Assessment, Norms/normative studies, Head injury, Traumatic brain injury

Summary of the Research

“Neuropsychological assessment is a multidisciplinary practice with much potential to inform legal decision-making. Its role in civil proceedings has been recognized for some time, and it continues to be developed in criminal proceedings. Given the increasing prevalence of both neuropsychological and neuroscientific evidence in criminal legal cases, and the limitations of neuroscientific evidence to answer relevant criminal psycholegal questions, it is reasonable to assume neuropsychological expertise will continue to play an increasing role in criminal cases in the United States legal system” (p. 1).

“Justice-involved individuals appear to represent a distinct neuropsychological population that is not well described by current normative data. Applying existing, commonly used normative data to justice-involved individuals may therefore lead to inaccurate description of neurocognitive strengths and weaknesses, poor clinical conceptualization of impairment and treatment considerations, and invalid diagnosis. As a result, this practice does not appear to be fully consistent with relevant ethical guidance from the Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct, or the Guidelines on Multicultural Education, Training, Research, Practice, and Organizational Change for Psychologists. Nor does this practice appear fully consistent with relevant practice guidelines or standards for the admissibility of evidence in criminal legal decision-making, particularly related to the concepts of legal materiality (i.e., the nexus between the neuropsychological evidence and the psycholegal question before the court), empirical fit (i.e., the extent to which neuropsychological practice can be applied within the criminal justice setting), and probative value (i.e., whether the neuropsychological evidence makes a fact at issue in the case more or less likely, typically based on the validity of its underlying procedures” (p. 2).

“The goal of the current study was to examine the use of neuropsychological assessment in a general population of justice involved men. To that end, clinical and neuropsychological descriptions of a sample of justice-involved men are presented. This sample is then compared against commonly referenced normative samples for several neuropsychological measures. Finally, preliminary data are presented to inform the use of selected measures in the neuropsychological assessment of justice-involved men” (p. 2).

“Inferential statistical analyses, effect size calculations, and clinical analyses demonstrated that this sample of justice involved men performed significantly lower, and with disproportionate rates of impairment than commonly referenced normative samples across neuropsychological measures of intellectual functioning, attention, verbal fluency, and executive functioning. Results suggest that applying these commonly referenced normative data within the neuropsychological assessment of justice involved individuals may lead practitioners to imprecise clinical conceptualization, and place them at higher risk for rendering opinions that are deemed insufficient or invalid by the retaining legal parties or triers of fact. Preliminary data were therefore developed to inform the use of selected measures in the neuropsychological assessment of justice-involved men” (p. 9).

Translating Research into Practice

“Practitioners would do well to assess for substance use, TBI, and trauma exposure in their clinical interviews when working with justice-involved individuals—both prior to and during their current institutionalization. These experiences appear prevalent in this population, and can have a significant impact on the conceptualization of clinical and neuropsychological data in an assessment context. As in other clinical settings, justice-involved individuals may not be willing or able to discuss this content with evaluators, such that sole reliance on self-report for this information may lead to incomplete clinical conceptualization and decision-making” (p. 9).

The study discussed here provides descriptive and preliminary data for neuropsychological practitioners to utilize while they are conducting clinical and forensic work with justice-involved populations. “These data are not presented to replace the use of the commonly referenced normative samples for the selected measures in forensic neuropsychological assessment. Indeed, using the current data to the exclusion of the previously published, broad-based normative data may be inconsistent with best clinical and forensic practice. This is particularly true in forensic cases requiring the comparison of the client’s performance against established expected levels to help answer the ultimate issue, either directly (e.g., by describing the functional-legal capacities associated with competency to stand trial) or indirectly (i.e., by rendering specific clinical diagnoses). These processes may be aided by the addition of group-specific normative comparison, however, which would give the clinician the opportunity to compare their client’s performance against what might be expected broadly (i.e., using standard norms) and with respect to their peers (i.e., using group-specific norms). This deeper analysis appears to be useful in both the clinical sense with respect to clarifying the level of impairment and suggesting potential etiological factors, and in a forensic sense with respect to the probative value and helpfulness of neuropsychological evidence in criminal legal decision-making” (p. 9).

Other Interesting Tidbits for Researchers and Clinicians

“The current sample was relatively small compared to most normative studies, particularly in certain age and education subgroups. Further, the current sample was recruited from a single site that had administrative entry criteria regarding security level (i.e., minimum), criminal history (i.e., no arson or sexual offenses) and length of time until parole eligibility (i.e., 24 months or less). These characteristics restricted the population from which participants were recruited, and potentially the generalizability of the current results to general justice-involved populations. The presented differences between the study sample and relevant correctional comparison populations on several demographic variables appears to partially support this concern. Future research may improve upon the current study by developing normative data based on larger samples from multiple sites that are more representative of the United States correctional population (i.e., local, state, and federal institutions), and criminal justice population in general (e.g., pre-trial, post-conviction, probation, and parole)” (p. 11).

“That participants self-selected into the study raises further concerns about the representativeness of the current sample. Specifically, based on the characteristics of the individuals who were not interested or excluded from participating, it appears likely the current results represent an overestimation of the performance of justice-involved men on the selected neuropsychological measures. Working with correctional institutional authorities to incorporate neuropsychological measures within standard intake procedures may yield results that are closer to the true level of functioning of justice-involved individuals, provided that relevant ethical and review authorities determine that doing so would not produce heightened risk to the potential participants” (p. 11).

Future research may also benefit from including a more diverse sample of individuals who are involved in the criminal justice system (e.g., woman, individuals with major psychotic or mood disorders, individuals with sensory and/or motor impairment, individuals who are not fluent in English). Including a comprehensive multi-method assessment of performance validity may also be beneficial to neuropsychological forensic research as the current study utilized measures that were embedded into respected assessment tools. Furthermore, no symptom validity measures were utilized in this study to tease apart suboptimal performance. In addition, further investigation into the relation between educational attainment and neuropsychological performance utilizing a culturally diverse sample may provide a better understanding of the variance in performance within justice involved samples. Future research may also consider using a more comprehensive multi-method assessment of intellectual functioning, ADHD, and TBI as the current study utilized abbreviated measures, which prevented stratification of the data.

“Finally, the measures included in the current study are not representative of common test use among neuropsychologists generally or in forensic contexts. Given the importance of general acceptance and the use of well-validated methods to the admissibility of expert evidence within the United States legal system, future research should focus on providing data related to the performance of justice-involved individuals on valid measures commonly used by neuropsychologists in their forensic practice. Doing so will aid in furthering our clinical and empirical understanding of this important population, and directly enhance the practice of forensic neuropsychological assessment as well” (p. 12).

Join the Discussion

As always, please join the discussion below if you have thoughts or comments to add!

Authored by Amanda Beltrani

Amanda Beltrani is a current graduate student in the Forensic Psychology Masters program at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York. Her professional interests include forensic assessments, specifically, criminal matter evaluations. Amanda plans to continue her studies in a doctoral program after completion of her Masters degree.

Evaluators Do Not Always Uphold Culturally Competent Practice Guidelines

Self-reported culturally competent practices among evaluators suggest that evaluators do not always uphold practice guidelines. This is the bottom line of a recently published article in the International Journal of Forensic Mental Health. Below is a summary of the research and findings as well as a translation of this research into practice.

Featured Article | International Journal of Forensic Mental Health | 2016, Vol. 15, No. 4, 312-322

Forensic Evaluators’ Self-Reported Engagement in Culturally Competent Practices

Authors

Lauren Kois Department of Psychology, John Jay College of Criminal Justice and the Graduate Center, City University of New York, New York, New York, USA
Preeti Chauhan Department of Psychology, John Jay College of Criminal Justice and the Graduate Center, City University of New York, New York, New York, USA

Abstract

Cultural competence is a rising concern within the sub-specialty of forensic evaluation and will grow in need as the population diversifies. We surveyed 100 forensic evaluators to explore issues related to cultural competence. Overall, evaluators differed demographically from those they evaluate. Self reported culturally competent practices varied, suggesting that evaluators do not always uphold practice guidelines. Evaluators’ training variety was associated with an increased likelihood to address communication difficulties with evaluatees. Evaluators who saw more racially and linguistically diverse evaluatees were more likely to participate in culturally sensitive case formulation practices. We conclude with implications for practice at the individual and institutional levels and directions for research.

Keywords

Forensic mental health; evaluator; assessment; culture; competence

Summary of the Research

“Recent estimates indicate that about 41% of jail inmates are Asian, Black, or Hispanic; that 22% of federal inmates are foreign-born; and that immigration proceedings constitute 46% of all federal arrests. Considering these numbers in combination with projected population trends, it is likely that forensic evaluators will conduct evaluations of diverse evaluatees with increasing frequency” (p. 312).

“The Specialty Guidelines for Forensic Psychologists and forensic evaluation scholars have highlighted the need for cultural competence in forensic contexts and have provided a number of suggestions for practice. Still, compared to the broader cultural competence literature, research and discussion regarding multicultural considerations within the forensic context is scarce. Further, the forensic evaluator/evaluatee relationship (i.e., nontherapeutic) is a unique one, and we cannot assume that all practices recommended for general assessment and psychotherapy extend to forensic evaluations. Nonetheless, a combination of general cultural competence and forensic-specific guidelines can provide a “roadmap” of five domains (communication, clinical interview and collateral information, assessment, case formulation, and bounds of competence) that evaluators may consider when conducting forensic evaluations with diverse populations” (p. 312-313).

“Theory, research, and specialty guidelines identify a number of steps for conducting culturally competent forensic evaluations. However, there has been no formal investigation to determine if and how forensic evaluators apply these practices that are intended to develop or demonstrate cultural competence. We conducted a survey of forensic mental health evaluators to explore this issue. Through this project, we aimed to document evaluator and evaluatee characteristics, quantify evaluators’ cultural competence training and self-reported practices, and explore which evaluator and evaluate characteristics are associated with these practices” (p. 314).

Results from this survey indicated that evaluators reported engaging in communication practices (i.e., focused on verbal and nonverbal communication, considered linguistic concerns, and coordinated interpretation services) usually or always. Evaluators reported engaging in clinical interview and collateral information practices (i.e., discussing immigration status, gathering third party information from family and friends, and discussing religious/spiritual beliefs) half the time to usually. Most evaluators denoted that they usually or always consider level of acculturation and psychometric properties of assessments with evaluees from similar groups. When preparing cases and answering referral questions, evaluators reported considering the evaluee’s cultural context usually to always. Additionally, evaluators reported that they recognize bounds of competence (i.e., discussion with experience colleagues and referencing literature on belief, values and traditions) half the time to usually. 

“Variety of training experiences was associated with asking evaluatees’ level of comfort in talking with evaluators. Consideration of how evaluatees’ perceptions of evaluators’ racial, ethnic, or cultural backgrounds and how it may influence response style was associated with evaluatees’ Race and Language DIs. Evaluatees’ language DIs were also associated with consideration of cultural context when forming diagnoses. No other associations were significant at our conservative p level of <.006” (p. 318).

“Evaluators varied in their reported methods of practice. In general, evaluators usually or always adhered to practice guidelines in the domains of assessment, followed by communication and case formulation practices. Still, over half of the practices we assessed exhibited the full range of potential responses, with some evaluators indicating that they never engaged in 14 of the 25 practices included in our survey. This suggests that at least some evaluators do not consistently practice according to APA guidelines. On average, evaluators least often endorsed practices related to the clinical interview and collateral information and bounds of competence domains” (p. 319).

Translating Research into Practice

“Evaluators who engage in a variety of diversity-related training opportunities were more likely to ask evaluatees’ their level of comfort in speaking with them. It may be that a variety of training opportunities helps to enhance evaluators’ approach to this communication practice. Alternatively, evaluators who seek a diverse range of training opportunities may be more open to exploring evaluatees’ comfort with evaluations in general. All evaluators had attended a diversity-themed training, and so we could not explore practice differences between those who had or had not. Instead, we explored the relationship between workplace training and evaluators’ reported practices. Workplace training was not significantly associated with any practice variables. It may be that evaluators seek training opportunities that enhance their practice outside of the workplace. This is especially the case for those in private practice, whose employment setting does not necessarily “provide” training under the umbrella of a larger mental health organization. It may be that overall number of trainings, frequency of trainings, and trainings that followed APA practice guidelines may better capture evaluators’ training experiences and help to clarify links between training and practice”  (p. 319).

“Evaluators are at a loss when quality training is scarce. Of concern, almost three-fourths of evaluators reported lack of training opportunities as a barrier to cultural competence in the workplace, and nearly half cited funding limitations as problematic. Work by other researchers suggests that increased access to resources is related to increased self-perceived cultural competence. We recommend that employment sites and conference organizations allot adequate time and resources to training in line with APA practice guidelines for both practical and ethical reasons” (p. 320).

“We find it critical that evaluators stay abreast of discussion surrounding cultural competence and recommend that they do so via the aforementioned workplace training, APA resources, and research databases. This task will grow in importance as researchers generate new findings and cultural dynamics evolve over time” (p. 320).

Other Interesting Tidbits for Researchers and Clinicians

“We must strongly emphasize that our study explored self-reported practices, which may not provide an accurate picture of the frequency with which these culturally competent practices are actually employed. As found in Constantine and Ladany’s (2000) study of psychology professionals and trainees, self-reported cultural competence may not translate to true culturally competent

practice abilities. Then again, research has demonstrated that clinicians’ self-report of culturally competent practices can be associated with increased patient satisfaction and sharing of information, indicating that self-report may reflect clinical practice in at least some circumstances” (p. 319).

“Future research should explore which practices elucidate important cultural considerations during forensic evaluations. Once these practice benchmarks are established, researchers may utilize preand post-training assessments—ideally measured through observation, rather than self-report survey—to identify effective training methods for developing and maintaining cultural competence” (p. 320).

“It is also important to note that our findings do not provide a better understanding of intrinsic and/or extrinsic motivations behind evaluators’ self-perceptions and pursuit of culturally competent practice. Researchers have found that evaluator characteristics, such as diversity orientation and social desirability, may contribute to self-reported cultural competence. Incorporating these additional evaluator characteristics into future research may be informative. As the linguistic landscape diversifies, researchers should explore the nuances of working with interpreters.  Development and validation of assessments with diverse populations is also a pertinent direction for future work” (p. 320-321).

Join the Discussion

As always, please join the discussion below if you have thoughts or comments to add!

Authored by Amanda Beltrani

Amanda Beltrani is a current graduate student in the Forensic Psychology Masters program at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York. Her professional interests include forensic assessments, specifically, criminal matter evaluations. Amanda plans to continue her studies in a doctoral program after completion of her Masters degree.

Behaviorally Specific Detailed Assessment Tools Uncover More Intimate Partner Violence Victimization

Forensic-Training-AcademyBehaviorally specific, detailed assessment tools with more items inquiring about different violent behaviors uncover more cases of IPV victimization than broader, less specific assessment tools with fewer items. This is the bottom line of a recently published article in Psychology, Public Policy and Law. Below is a summary of the research and findings as well as a translation of this research into practice.

ppplFeatured Article | Psychology, Public Policy, and Law | 2015, Vol. 21, No. 3, 329-251

Detection of Intimate Partner Violence and Recommendation for Joint Family Mediation: A Randomized Controlled Trial of Two Screening Measures

Authors

Fernanda S. Rossi, Indiana University–Bloomington
Amy Holtzworth-Munroe, Indiana University–Bloomington
Amy G. Applegate, Indiana University–Bloomington
Connie J. A. Beck, University of Arizona
Jeannie M. Adams and Darrell F. Hale, 
Multi-Door Dispute Resolution Division of the District of Columbia Superior Court, Washington, DC

Abstract

Given controversy about whether mediation is a safe option for parties with a history of intimate partner violence (IPV), there is agreement that staff should conduct systematic IPV screening prior to conducting family mediation sessions; yet, measures to do so are limited and new. The present study is a randomized controlled trial comparing use of a standardized, behaviorally specific screen (Mediator’s Assessment of Safety Issues and Concerns, MASIC) to a less specific mediation clinic IPV screen (Multi-Door screen) for rates of IPV detection. We also examined rates of recommendation to joint mediation resulting from use of the 2 screens. The sample was 741 divorcing or never married parties seeking mediation at the D.C. Superior Court’s Multi-Door Dispute Resolution Division. Results indicated that parties were at greater odds of reporting IPV and IPV-related risk factors (i.e., injury, fear) on the MASIC compared with the Multi-Door screen. However, overall, neither screen was more likely than the other to lead to a case not being recommended for joint mediation. Regardless of screen, cases identified as higher risk were less likely to be recommended for joint mediation, and relative to the Multi-Door screen, the MASIC identified more high risk cases. Thus, a greater percentage of high risk cases were not recommended for joint mediation when the MASIC was used. In exploratory analyses, findings suggest that type of IPV behavior reported, level of IPV and abuse victimization, and the recency of such behaviors significantly impact recommendation decisions.

Keywords

intimate partner violence, assessment, divorce mediation, mediation recommendation, joint mediation

Summary of the Research

“The question of whether cases reporting intimate partner violence (IPV) should be recommended for mediation has stirred an important and ongoing debate. Evolving from this debate has been an agreement that screening for IPV in the mediation setting is a necessary first step for making recommendations to offer mediation to parties or not. But discussion continues regarding which assessment tools are most effective in detecting IPV and related issues, such as fear and injury, in the mediation context” (p. 240).

The current study sought to compare detection rates of two instruments that are used to assess IPV. One instrument is The Mediator’s Assessment of Safety Issues and Concerns (MASIC). The MASIC is complied of 37 items that gauge different forms of abuse through specific behavior questions (i.e., As a result of the other parent’s behaviors, did you ever feel fearful, scared, or afraid of physical harm to yourself or to others?). The other instrument used in this study was the Multi-Door Screen. The Multi-Door is complied of broader questions that do not ask about specific violent behavior (i.e., Are you afraid of the other person?). The researchers posited that the utilizing the MASIC would result in more individuals reporting being a victim of IPV as well as IPV related issues as it is a more intricate measure of screening than the Multi-Door Screen.

Further this study examined how recommendations for joint mediation are made from the information that is obtained during IPV screenings. Specifically, the researchers hoped to develop data on why parties are not commended for join mediation when IPV is reported. “Limited research has examined whether IPV screening information influences the decisions of mediation staff responsible for determining whether cases should be included in traditional joint mediation, and few empirical studies have examined the rate at which mediators screen cases out of mediation due to concerns about IPV” (p. 240).

“We hypothesized that, compared with parties completing a more general IPV assessment tool, fewer parties completing a behaviorally specific assessment tool would be recommended for joint mediation, given that this tool is hypothesized to yield more reports of IPV victimization. We also conducted exploratory analyses to determine which factors (e.g., number of IPV-related risk factors, type of IPV behavior, level and recency of IPV victimization), regardless of the screen used, are related to recommendation decisions. We offer no hypotheses as no previous research has examined the factors related to decisions in recommending joint mediation” (p. 241).

“Data were gathered by Multi-Door staff, de-identified, and then made available to the researchers for analysis; participants were thus not required to provide consent to participate. The research protocol was approved by the institutional review board at the researchers’ university. Parties included in the study followed Multi-Door procedures. Specifically, parties were asked to attend an intake appointment. A random assignment list was used to assign each case to be screened with either the MASIC or the Multi-Door screen; both parties in a case completed the same screen. IPV screens were administered separately to each party and recommendations for joint mediation were made by the DRS examining intake information from both parties, and then by the program officer after his review of information from both intakes” (p. 243).

Translating Research into Practice

“Results supported our hypothesis that participants would be more likely to report IPV victimization on the MASIC than on the Multi-Door screen. While Ballard et al. (2011) used different IPV screening measures than those examined in the present study, consistent with that study’s findings, over half of participants in our current sample reported physical violence victimization (55.38%) using the more detailed and behaviorally specific MASIC screening measure, while only 38.80% of parties reported IPV victimization on the Multi-Door screen. Across studies, findings demonstrate that behaviorally specific, detailed screens, with more items inquiring about different violent behaviors, uncover more cases of party reported IPV victimization than broader, less specific screens with fewer items” (p. 247).

“Results indicated no overall significant differences in the odds of recommending a case for joint mediation services depending on whether the MASIC or the Multi-Door screen was used. Instead, across both screens, cases identified as being at higher risk were more likely to not be recommended for joint mediation, and as the MASIC detected a greater number of high risk cases, due to the increased odds of parties reporting IPV risk factors, almost twice as many cases were both high risk and screened out of joint mediation when using the MASIC as when using the Multi-Door screen. This pattern of findings was true for both the program officer and DRS recommendations. Thus, in the context of family mediation, using a behaviorally specific screen, such as the MASIC, will likely lead to the appropriateness of joint mediation being carefully considered in more cases” (p. 248- 249)

“Further, exploratory analyses indicated that regardless of the screening measure used, the program officer and dispute resolution specialist’s (DRS) are considering parties’ reports of IPV, injury, fear, and use or display of weapon when making recommendations to joint mediation, with reports of fear being most related to not recommending joint mediation. Interestingly, sex of the party reporting IPV (male or female) did not predict recommendations in exploratory analyses. Cases reporting a greater number of IPV/A behaviors ever in the relationship and within the past year were less likely to be recommended to joint mediation by the program officer and DRSs, although findings suggest that the program officer gave greater consideration to behaviors that occurred at any point in the relationship while the DRSs gave greater consideration to behaviors that occurred in the past year. This difference among staff in the decision-making process further suggests the need for standardized criteria for making recommendations to joint mediation. The absence of such guidelines may result in variable and unreliable recommendation decisions across staff members both within a mediation program and across programs” (p. 249).

Other Interesting Tidbits for Researchers and Clinicians

“Although we examined the MASIC, which was designed for use in a mediation setting, our goal was not to consider the MASIC as the only or even the optimal IPV screen in such settings. Other behaviorally specific screens are likely to be similarly effective in assessing for IPV but, to date, no researchers have compared the MASIC with other well-known IPV screening tools that were not designed for the mediation setting, such as the Conflict Tactics Scale. Such work is needed, as is an exploration of how formatting of IPV screens (e.g., interview, paper and pencil, or online administration) impacts IPV/A victimization reports in mediation settings” (p. 248)

“While not predicted, the present study finding of a non-significant difference between screens in the likelihood that individuals reported weapons may not be surprising; it is consistent with our overall conclusion, as both screens include only one question about weapons. Further research is needed to examine when parties decide to report weapons as the MASIC and Multi-Door screen questions differed in two ways. First, the Multi-Door screen asks about both partners, while the MASIC only asks the participant about the other party. Second, the Multi-Door screen asks about “displaying” a weapon, whereas the MASIC asks about “use” of a weapon.” (247-248)

“We recommend that researchers continue to examine the decision-making process of mediators or mediation staff; ideally, however, recommendation to mediation would be based on empirical data regarding the outcomes of cases with a history of IPV in mediation. Information is needed regarding whether excluding IPV cases from mediation is actually a favorable outcome for these families” (p. 250)

“Future researchers should examine whether the parties in cases with differing levels of reported IPV and IPV-related risk factors are able to safely complete mediation, feel safe in mediation, and make mediation agreements that protect victim and child safety. In this latter category, researchers should examine whether family arrangements developed in mediation adequately protect the safety of victims and children after separation or relationship dissolution, or whether traditional court proceedings instead offer greater benefits to such families” (p. 250)

Join the Discussion

As always, please join the discussion below if you have thoughts or comments to add!

Authored by Amanda Beltrani3

Amanda Beltrani is a current graduate student in the Forensic Psychology Masters program at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York. Her professional interests include forensic assessments, specifically, criminal matter evaluations. Amanda plans to continue her studies in a doctoral program after completion of her Masters degree.

New Release: Forensic Evaluation and Treatment of Juveniles

SalekinThe American Psychological Association has recently released a new book by Randy Salekin that examines relevant issues in the forensic evaluation and treatment of juveniles.

Forensic Evaluation and Treatment of Juveniles: Innovation and Best Practice

Psychologists have always played a key role in determining how the juvenile justice system assesses and treats young offenders. Recent neuropsychological findings shows that there are important developmental differences between juvenile offenders, such as varying levels of maturity, risk potential, and amenability to treatment, not to mention individualized personality traits and possible mental disorders. Psychologists must therefore strive for targeted rehabilitation services to avoid unfair treatment and redirect youth to healthier life choices.

This book is a practical guide that will help psychologists answer important psycho-legal questions to properly assess and treat juvenile offenders. These guidelines primarily focus on disposition evaluations, which describe adolescent offenders and paths to rehabilitation, and transfer evaluations, which determine whether juveniles should be moved to adult courts. Psychological assessments can greatly influence a judge’s decision, so this book will help forensic clinicians consider important external factors, such as local laws and the political climate, and present assessment data to judges in a thorough, understandable manner.

This book will also be valuable for attorneys, judges, criminologists, and legal scholars who want to understand the psychological science behind juvenile assessment. 2015. Hardcover.

About the Author

Randy Salekin, PhD, is a professor and Director of the Disruptive Behavior Clinic (DBC) at the University of Alabama. He also serves as the Associate Director of the Center for the Prevention on Youth Behavior Problems. Dr. Salekin is an expert in the assessment and treatment of young people with disruptive behavior disorders who are referred from the community or the juvenile court. He provides assessment, treatment, and general consultation recommendations. Dr. Salekin is the author of the RSTI, one of the primary measures for assessing youth who have come into contact with the law. His research focuses on understanding of the causes and correlates of disruptive behavior in children including youth with interpersonal callousness (Limited Prosocial Emotion). In addition, his research and practice focus on the treatment of conduct problem young people with callous unemotional traits. Dr. Salekin’s assessment and treatment efforts have been found to be both innovative and effective for youth with Oppositional Defiant Disorders, Conduct Disorders, and Limited Prosocial Emotion. Dr. Salekin is the author of numerous research publications, the Handbook of Child and Adolescent Psychopathy, and has received both national and international recognition for his work.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Legal Contexts and More
Chapter 2. Juvenile Characteristics, Political and Social Climate, and Transfer Chapter 3. Forensic Mental Health Concepts
Chapter 4. Empirical Foundations and Limits of Juvenile Forensic Evaluation Chapter 5. Preparation for the Evaluation and Forensic Practice
Chapter 6. Data Collection for Juvenile Evaluations
Chapter 7. Interpretation for Juvenile Evaluations
Chapter 8. Report Writing and Testimony
Chapter 9. Treatment of Young People in the Juvenile Justice System Chapter 10. Conclusion and Future Directions