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Behavioral Sciences & the Law

David Freedman, George W Woods
Neuroscience has already changed the understanding of how intent forms and is acted upon, how an individual's cognitive processes shape behavior, and how bio-psychosocial history and neurodevelopmental approaches provide information that has been largely missing from the assessment of intent. In this paper, we first review the state of forensic assessment of mental condition and intent, focused primarily on the weaknesses of the current approach. In Section 2, we discuss neurobehavioral forensic assessment, which is a neuroscience-based approach...
July 22, 2018: Behavioral Sciences & the Law
Milena Abbiati, Julie Palix, Jacques Gasser, Valérie Moulin
Violence in correctional facilities is an important issue for both prisoners and prison staff. Risk assessment instruments have demonstrated their accuracy in predicting the risk of (re) offending and institutional violence in psychiatric settings, but less is known about their ability to predict violent misconduct in prison. The present study applied four risk assessment instruments (Structured Assessment of Protective Factors for violence risk, Historical Clinical Risk Management-20, Psychopathy checklist - Revised, and Violent Risk Appraisal Guide) to 52 violent offenders in a Swiss prison in order to evaluate the instruments' predictive validities...
July 20, 2018: Behavioral Sciences & the Law
Christopher Slobogin
This article is a revision of an address made at the 2016 annual conference of the American Psychology-Law Society, in honor of receiving that organization's Distinguished Contribution Award. It sets forth a vision of the criminal justice system, and in particular the sentencing process, that is oriented toward preventive, rather than retributive, justice. After explaining preventive justice - a concept that in one form or another has been discussed for decades - and why it is worth revisiting at this time, the article proposes a number of hypotheses about the assumptions underlying preventive and retributive justice regimes...
July 20, 2018: Behavioral Sciences & the Law
Robert A Beattey, Mark R Fondacaro
Generally, a criminal statute must consist of two essential elements: a description of the forbidden act (actus reus) and a designation of a guilty mental state (mens rea). For a crime to be committed, an individual must commit the forbidden act with the culpable mental state. For any criminal act, both criminal liability and the possible punishment turn largely on retrospective judgments by legal decision-makers about what a defendant was or was not thinking at the time of committing the forbidden act. Given the central and foundational nature of this legal judgment, there is surprisingly little empirical study of how the mens rea construct functions...
July 16, 2018: Behavioral Sciences & the Law
Adam Zwickle, Hillary B Farber, Joseph A Hamm
In this study we assess the extent to which the regulations governing the use of drones in the United States address the concerns held by the public they are meant to protect. In general, respondents were most supportive of those regulations that could be categorized as limiting one's exposure to an unwanted drone. The most popular policies were those that protected personal privacy, while the least popular were those that hampered drones used for public safety. The largest discrepancy was found to be respondents' preference for laws protecting personal privacy compared with the lack of regulatory constraints currently in place...
July 13, 2018: Behavioral Sciences & the Law
Marla Sandys, Heather Pruss, Sara M Walsh
Recent U.S. Supreme Court opinions have given rise to the question of whether persons suffering from a severe mental illness should be categorically exempt from the death penalty. This article presents a brief overview of relevant U.S. Supreme Court cases and the empirical evidence relevant to this question. We then present our findings on how actual capital jurors respond to and discuss engaging with evidence of mental illness, as drawn from in-depth interviews collected as part of the Capital Jury Project...
July 13, 2018: Behavioral Sciences & the Law
Robert Walker, James J Clark, Edward C Monahan, Art Shechet, Bhushan S Agharkar, Athena Kheibari, Grant Victor Iii
In this article we propose a mitigation approach in those capital murder cases where traditional mitigation themes such as mental illness or low IQ are not present. To avoid prosecution characterization of these defendants as simply evil or antisocial personalities, we suggest reframing the issue as one of moral incompetence, based not on character defect but rather stemming from profoundly neglectful or abusive parenting. Under this reframing, defense teams would present evidence about the many antecedents of poor moral competence, its origins in neglect or abuse, its neurophysiological basis, and, most importantly, its potential for change...
July 13, 2018: Behavioral Sciences & the Law
Stephen Koppel, Mark Fondacaro, Chongmin Na
Criminal punishment is justified on either retributive or consequential grounds. The retributive justification is premised on a common-sense view of free will: offenders can freely choose to commit crimes and so deserve blame for their actions. The consequentialist justification, in contrast, is not necessarily premised on the free will concept, but rather justifies punishment when it is the most cost-effective way of preventing crime. Science elucidating the mechanistic causes of human behavior has thrown the notion of free will into doubt, leading some to predict a shift in public support away from retribution towards consequentialism...
July 13, 2018: Behavioral Sciences & the Law
Natalie S Gordon, Mark R Fondacaro
Criminal responsibility in the American legal system requires the presence of an actus reus-a harmful act that was committed voluntarily-and a mens rea, or guilty mind. Courts frequently consider questions surrounding mens rea but rarely question whether an act was committed voluntarily. Thus, courts presume that acts have been committed voluntarily and with an ill will; retribution, which serves the primary basis for punishment in the USA, relies on this presumption. Research in neuroscience and the behavioral sciences, however, suggests that this presumption is flawed and not sufficiently robust to justify punishment that is grounded in retribution...
July 13, 2018: Behavioral Sciences & the Law
Lauren E Kois, Preeti Chauhan
While some correlates of criminal responsibility (CR) outcomes are consistent, others are not. Study-level characteristics, such as sample selection, variability in the operational definition of insanity, or other unknown influences may explain discrepant findings. It is critical to systematically consolidate and assess the literature in order to guide future work. We conducted the first meta-analysis and study space analysis (see Malpass et al., ) in this area. 15 studies met inclusion criteria for the meta-analysis, which encompassed 19,500 cases...
May 2018: Behavioral Sciences & the Law
Brett O Gardner, Daniel C Murrie, Angela N Torres
Evaluations of legal sanity are some of the most complex and consequential mental health evaluations that forensic clinicians perform for the courts. Thus, there is strong reason to monitor the wide-scale process and conclusions of sanity evaluations. In this study, we review 1,111 court-ordered sanity evaluation reports submitted by 74 evaluators in Virginia from the first year after the state initiated an oversight system that allowed for such comprehensive review. Overall, the base rate of insanity findings was 16...
May 2018: Behavioral Sciences & the Law
David M Siegel, Robert Kinscherff
The standard of practice for forensic interviews in criminal and delinquency cases, other than those conducted as part of brief preliminary screening evaluations or in emergency situations, should include a digital recording requirement. This standard should be adopted because of the greater availability of, and familiarity with, recording technology on the part of mental health professionals, the greater use and proven effectiveness of recording in other contexts of the criminal justice system, and the improvement in court presentation and accuracy of judicial determinations involving forensic assessments that recording will provide...
May 2018: Behavioral Sciences & the Law
Christopher Slobogin
No abstract text is available yet for this article.
May 2018: Behavioral Sciences & the Law
Daniel A Krauss, Jennifer Gongola, Nicholas Scurich, Brendan Busch
The role of experts and their presentation of testimony in insanity cases remain controversial. In order to decrease possible expert bias associated with this testimony, a number of different alternatives to adversarial presentation have been suggested. Two such alternatives are the use of court-appointed experts and the use of concurrent testimony (or "hot-tubbing"), in which opposing experts provide testimony concurrently and converse with each other directly. An experiment using a sample of venire jurors (n = 150) tested the effect of these alternatives...
May 2018: Behavioral Sciences & the Law
Kimberly P Brown
Much has been written about how to conduct insanity defense evaluations, as well as how to operationalize the legal definitions of insanity. However, the insanity defense has never been categorized by a typology. This article describes a typology of six subtypes of the insanity defense: paranoid self-defense, "but it's mine," erotomanic stalking, deific decree, disorganized, and false report. Knowledge of these subtypes, while not all inclusive, can inform insanity defense evaluations, guide training, and potentially increase the reliability of forensic evaluators' opinions...
May 2018: Behavioral Sciences & the Law
Caroline Titcomb Parrott, Michelle A Jones, Stanley L Brodsky, Clayton Shealy
This study used a mixed quantitative-qualitative methodology to examine whether mock jurors considered a defendant's meta-responsibility - specifically, the defendant's medication noncompliance and degree of insight into his/her schizophrenia - when determining the person's criminal responsibility. The degree of expert witness explanation regarding these factors was also varied. Participants (n = 173) were grouped into 30 juries, randomized across five conditions, and shown mock testimony and attorney arguments based on a real not guilty by reason of insanity court case...
May 2018: Behavioral Sciences & the Law
Tess M S Neal
This project began as an attempt to develop systematic, measurable indicators of bias in written forensic mental health evaluations focused on the issue of insanity. Although forensic clinicians observed in this study did vary systematically in their report-writing behaviors on several of the indicators of interest, the data are most useful in demonstrating how and why bias is hard to ferret out. Naturalistic data were used in this project (i.e., 122 real forensic insanity reports), which in some ways is a strength...
May 2018: Behavioral Sciences & the Law
Marie Henshaw, James R P Ogloff, Jonathan A Clough
Technological advances have dramatically increased the ability to access, distribute and produce child exploitation material (CEM) online, resulting in increased numbers of individuals being charged with CEM offences. This study examined the demographic, mental health, and offending characteristics of CEM offenders (n = 456) in comparison to child contact sexual offenders (n = 493) and offenders with a history of both CEM and contact offences (dual offenders, n = 256). A robust data linkage methodology was employed to link records from statewide corrections services with policing and mental health records in Victoria, Australia...
March 2018: Behavioral Sciences & the Law
Thula Koops, Arne Dekker, Peer Briken
Despite the relevance of the Internet and its increasing use for sexual purposes, research into online sexual activity (OSA) involving webcams is limited. Aside from positive experiences, OSA may implicate violations of sexual boundaries, reaching from minor issues to serious forms of sexual abuse. To provide a basis for a classification of sexual boundary violations online and a conceptualization of preventive measures, a systematic review of the literature on OSA involving webcams was conducted, resulting in publications from four thematic categories: webcam use in common OSA, psychopathological phenomena, sex work, and crime and indecency (commercial sexual exploitation, trafficking, and sexual boundary violations)...
March 2018: Behavioral Sciences & the Law
Thanh Ly, R Gregg Dwyer, J Paul Fedoroff
In the realm of sexual offenses, there has been a decrease in hands-on offenses, but an increase in online offenses against children. The current issue is whether online and offline sexual offenders are alike or differ. This literature review investigates the differences among individuals who have committed child pornography offenses, individuals who have committed contact offenses against children, and individuals who have committed both. This review discusses the various typologies that have been proposed of those who have committed online offenses against children, the diagnostic implications of having committed child pornography offenses, and the current state of treatment and prevention of individuals who have committed online sex offenses against children...
March 2018: Behavioral Sciences & the Law
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