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PSYC39 - Psych and the Law - Lec 1 (near-verbatim)

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David Nussbaum

PSYC39 Lecture 1: PY Date: Course will cover: 3-4 questions from todays lec = very basic ideas Forensic psychology: o Concerned with the intersection between psych & law o The role that forensic psychologists will play in the criminal justice sys = what course will look at Theres a whole area of social psych and law that we wont focus on: o Eye-witness testimony o Social psychology perceptual experiments to see how accurate eye witnesses are o Theres a lot of research going on with psych and law but has nothing to do with criminals or criminal justice per se but its more based on witnesses and whether warnings/cautions given to ppl Miranda warning (US thing) o This is more social & perceptual parts Here, were focusing on the role of psychologist in court system and correctional sys o Licensing body for psychologists in Ont: College of Psychologists of Ont doesnt really distinguish between ppl designated to work in prisons or psychologists designated to do court-based assessments although they are completely diff o Summarize difference: If you work in the court sys, youre helping judge/jury/both to decide whether an individual is for ex: fit to stand trial (b/c ppl may have mental disorders may impair ability to aid in their defense unfit to stand trial usu happens w/ some psychotic/psychiatric illness) Usu regain fitness after few weeks of treatment w/ anti-psychotics Another major component of what forensic psychologists do for the court is do assessments of criminal responsibility Fitness assessment: refers to ppls cognitive abilities in the present (do they have enough wherewithal to participate meaningfully in their trial?) Criminal responsibility: doesnt refer to how theyre functioning today but rather how they were functioning at the time crime was committed Ex) pseudoseizures man was suffering from this killed 16 yr old girl neighbour seemed oblivious to it he had no recollection of it for years, said that there was nothing neurologically wrong with him but when stressed, he may have altered states, gets snells/tingling but nothing neuro wrong so didnt think he had mental health defense but when MRIs avail, found that he had tumor in temporal lobe; after tumor removed, his beh became completely normal & didnt have pseudoseizures at the time of offense, he had some neurological problem that couldve caused unusual beh and lack of memory for event; but when going to trial, now completely fit b/c tumor removed and fxning normally theres a disjunction between fitness to stand trial and criminal responsibility (not necessarily consistent b/c person could be treated using anti-psychotics so that they would be fit to stand trial BUT at the time of crime occurrence they were not at normal state) retrospective to determine criminal responsibility -sometimes ppl malinger how do psychologists tell whether someone is faking a mental illness etc; for personal gain this is screened for Another thing that is done by forensic psychologists for the court is risk assessments 1 PSYC39 Lecture 1: PY Date: Risk Assessments: o In the old age, asking the question whether someone is likely to commit a violent crime again, the opinion given to court is by a psychiatrist interviewed person, looked at files; problem: became clear in the 60s when US released 1000s of mentally disordered ppl who were largely held b/c psychiatrists said they were dangerous first anti-psychotic came onto scene, and felt that these ppl didnt need to be hospitalized forever; what they found was that very small % (less than 15%) never committed a crime again when followed up in future year What this means is that 1000s of mentally disordered ppl were kept in institutions b/c psychiatrist said they were dangerous and needed to be locked up this isnt true and this is what spawned the industry of risk assessment research o Stage of the trial where risk assessment comes in is post-verdict Pre-trial we have issue of fitness to stand trial During trial we have issue of criminal responsibility Post-verdict: psychologist can determine how likely the offender is to recidivate violently which will help to determine how long this person should be locked up This is all forensic psychology having to do with the court Correctional psychology comes in once the person has been sentenced When sentenced, go to either federal or provincial prison; or if minor offense and the individual is deemed to need psychiatric/social work support (ex: homeless person with mental disorder steals hotdog off cart dont wanna send them to penitentiarynot necessarily going to make society safer; probably need psych help, help with housing/finances) these arent really ppl with criminal personalities o Correctional psychology dont do fitness or criminal responsibility aspect; these psychologists do classification (when somebody is convicted, the judge has to decide how long person should be sentenced) o 2 yrs less a day Under CDN law, the federal penitentiary sys is responsible to take in all offenders who are serving sentences of 2 yrs to life Provincial sys are responsible for sentences of less than 2 yrs Starting off in criminal career (generally not psychopaths), these are people who were in situations where they didnt exercise proper judgement (bar fight, sell weed etc;) In our criminal justice sys, were trying to rehabilitate criminals and not punish them for the sake of punishing (altho theres an element of punishment) in terms of sentencing, we want to make sure we deter the individual from doing it again (specific deterrence) and you also want to deter other ppl in society from doing the same thing (general deterrence) this is one of the goals of sentencing Canada has most progressive criminal justice sys in the world and the focus is on rehabilitation; dont wanna create apartments of criminals, wed much rather invest some money and rehabilitate/re-educate/inoculate ppl from committing crimes over and over Effectiveness of CDN system: In US, 2 million + ppl incarcerated & 2 million on probation = 4 mil CDN federal prisons (2yrs-life): o Canada = 10% of US popn 2PSYC39 Lecture 1: PY Date: o Canada = 14,000 ppl incarcerated in fed sys; 3X as many in provincial sys (lesser crimes) One of the things that psychologists do in the correctional systems is also risk assessment (this is for a slightly diff purpose = not for sentencing) = do risk assessment in Canada when ppl have served 1/3 of their sentence, theyre eligible for parole o Just b/c eligible for parole doesnt mean you get parole o Very thorough assessments done; risk assessments that are done later on, when person becomes eligible for parole Correctional Service Canada has come up with very elaborate protocol that they use to determine what ppls risk levels are and whether they recommend whether they do/dont get parole b/c if releasing them before the end of sentence is going to result in increased risk to society, then they dont want to release them early o Unless they get an indeterminate sentence (means theres no end to it), even if ppl get life sentence (here, means 25 yrs) then under the legislation of Faint Hope clause, allows them to apply for early release o This helps manage beh in prisons; b/c lot of ppl with very long s
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