There are five subspecialties of forensic psychology, namely police psychology, psychology of crime and delinquency, victimology and victim services, legal psychology and correctional psychology. I will discuss legal psychology and correctional psychology. ·Legal psychology Legal psychology is the study of human behavior relevant to the law. This subspecialty of forensic psychology consists of those theories that describe, explain and predict human behavior by reference to the law.
Bartol & Bartol (2012) described that early in a case when attorneys are preparing for a trial and gathering information psychologist can be called in to testify. Main roles of a forensic psychologist in the USA includes, acting as a consultant to law enforcement, acting as trial consultants (jury selection, case preparation and pre-trial publicity), presenting psychology to appeal courts, doing forensic assessment and acting as an expert witness (insanity defense, competence to stand trial, sentencing, eyewitness identification and child custody etc. ) Expert witness as a role in legal psychologist
A major role for forensic psychologist is to serve as an expert witness in both the criminal and civil court.
They are more commonly involve at the pretrial and post-trial proceedings, but may also serve as an expert witness at trial (Bartol & Bartol, 2012:151). Genis (2008) defines an expert witness as anyone who has knowledge beyond that of the court. Psychologist has the necessary skills to provide a good assessment of an individual for instance if an individual is fit to stand trial or the likehood that a particular individual will be a danger to the community (p. 4). An expert witness will testify in court in a form of opinion form the evidence and information that has been gathered, within their area of expertise. A good assessment is accomplished by reviewing exciting literature, doing research and conducting psychological assessments. The opinion of an expert witness will influence the judges in the pretrial proceedings, but the final decision will be made by the judge. The court must first decide whether the witness have the necessary skills, knowledge, training and experience to testify as an expert.
Bartol & Bartol (2012) described that even though an individual has the professional background to qualify as an expert witness; it is possible that the judges will not allow the evidence. The judges must decide if the evidence is reliable, legally sufficient and relevant to the case (p. 141). Experts should be aware that the opposing council will to everything in their power to highlight any inadequacies and deficiencies in the psychological evaluation findings. Therefore they should know their limitations and strengths of their information.
Expert witness contributes to the subspecialty of legal psychology, because their function is to assist the court in a legal matter. They examine a person based on objects from the court and educate the court on the legal matter. Whereas the courts are unfamiliar with certain information, the expert witness serves as consultant providing an opinion to the court. • Correctional psychology According to Bartol & Bartol (2012) the major role of a correctional psychologist is to help inmates in rehabilitation, treatment and reintegration.
They also work with offenders who are serving their sentence, or part of their sentence in the community on parole or probation. (p. 30). This subspecialty in forensic psychology is concerned with the diagnosis and classification of the offenders, the treatment and the rehabilitation of offenders. In this field correctional psychologist provides guidance and counseling services to institutionalized residents in a correctional facility.
There are numerous roles for forensic psychologist in a correctional setting that includes the diagnoses and management of a mentally ill inmates, psychological assessments and evaluations for court and other legal issues, assessment of violent and suicidal behavior, crisis intervention and personal evaluation. Psychologist’s assessment as a role of a correctional psychologist The type of assessment that a correctional psychologist do, involves evaluations of various issues such as the mental health of an individual and their psychological process.
Bartol& Bartol (2012) wrote that a psychological assessment refers to all the techniques used to measure and evaluate an offender’s paste, present and future status (p. 422). These types of assessment usually include psychological test or measurements, as well as interviews with the individuals being assets, interviews with others, direct observations and reviews of case records. Correctional psychologist can work in jails, prisons or in community-based facilities. Correctional facilities require entry-level assessment so that inmates can be psychologically processed and assigned to a particular facility or unit (Bartol & Bartol, 2012:422).
Each and every individual has to be evaluated for problem behavior or mental states before they are placed in a facility. Bartol & BArtol (2012) wrote that the correctional psychologist has to determine whether the individual is a suicide risk, indications of substance abuse, history of hospitalization and medications or indicators of violence (p. 423). Inmates have to be assessing throughout their period in a prison or jail to determine if their behavior has improved, if they show signs of antisocial behavior or have any other psychological crisis’s for example victimized by other inmates or news of death of a loved one.
Correctional psychologist will assets an inmate when approaches the end of their sentence. In this assessment the psychologist will meet with the inmate, review his/her prison files and do psychological test to evaluate if their behavior has improved, if they are a danger to the society or if he/she will reoffend. The same assessment will be conducted if they want to shift an inmate from a medium to a minimum security level. It is important to realize that a forensic psychologist do not perform in all the subspecialties that forensic psychology has to offer.