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PSYC39H3 (200)
Lecture 2

PSYC39H3 Lecture Notes - Lecture 2: Psychopathy

Course Code
David Nussbaum

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The Canadian Justice System
Forensic psychologists see somebody before the person is sentenced
They do not decide on the nature of the sentence, etc.
They look at what is behind the person’s behaviour, and their projection for risk in the future
So, the court has come to rely on opinions of experts for help
Today’s lecture is taken from the textbook, as well as the government website (Slide 2)
Definition of Crime
Crime is socially constructed
So, unlike what existed in Christian Europe 1000 years ago, where laws were a reflection of the
Bible, in Western society, crime does not necessarily refer back to theological things; they are much
more secular
Variety of definitions: include legal (what the courts are concerned with; a judge refers to what the law
says, not how they feel), moral, social, psychological explanations
Should consider changing understanding of acceptable norms in society
In Medieval Times, stores had to be closed on Sundays, because Sundays was the Christian
Sabbath—those were called the Blue Laws
Today, somebody who is Christian finds there to be nothing wrong with going shopping on a
Risk is involved in pretty much every occurrence of violent offending
Psychologists, after somebody has been convicted, before they are released, will do a risk
Mandatory release: say the judge sentences someone for 9 years. But after a third of their sentence
has been served, if they have good behaviour, they can get early release. If a risk is present, they
can keep them in for longer, until that risk is gone
Life sentence = 25 years
The term psychopathy is not a legal construct; to be a psychopath is not a crime
When the legal system defines some behaviour as a crime, it often describes what is a change of
behaviour from the norms of society
Working Definition of Criminal Behaviour
“Criminal behaviour refers to intentional behaviour that violates a criminal code; intentional in that it did
not occur accidentally or without justification or excuse” (Bartol and Bartol, 2008)
A person who had a heart attack while driving, foot hit the accelerator and they went 160 km/h: their
behaviour broke the law. However, this was not intentional. So, technically, they are not guilty.
For murder: If John hit Bob and Bob died, the court would not only have to show that John intended
to hit Bob, but also that John intended to murder Bob.
There has to be a guilty act + guilty mind
Impact of Criminal Conduct on Canadians
2.6 million reported crimes annually
20% of Canadians report being victims each year
Crime has broad negative influence beyond direct impact on the victim
Estimated $47 billion in victimization-related costs
Elements of Legal Systems Common to US and Canada
Legislators: make the laws
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