Forensics psychology can be said to be the art of applying psychology research, techniques, theories, methods and practices to a case that involves legal system. It usually deals with the criminal justice system in order to understand the way human mind works and how criminals think. It seeks to establish what triggers them to commit criminal activities. Forensics psychology teams investigate the causes of crimes and work hand in hand with the prisoners trying to identify the reason as to why they commit crime.
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Crime Scene Investigation, New York, is a well-plotted drama which tries to investigate crimes committed. The team is composed of well trained actors from forensic investigation departments in America. In the Crime Scene Investigation television show, ‘It happened to me’ a man is found dead on the street at night, soaked in blood which has been bleeding from nearly all the openings in his body. The body of the victim belonged to a Mr. Martin Stafford, who worked as the chief executive officer of a computer software company.
As Sheldon and other members of his team tries to examine how Mr. Martin met his death, Sheldon became scared as he tried to lean closer to Mr. Martin’s face in order to examine the body. Suddenly, Martin wakes up and whispers to Mr. Sheldon, “You could have saved me” and dies again. The team closes the case by concluding that the man was food poisoned.
They embanked on a mission to find the mysterious lady who accompanied Mr. Martin before he died. It turns out that the lady had also been poisoned. It came out later that the chief executive was attacked by an employee, who had lost all his saving from his employee’s pension funds. The employee had decided to take revenge due to the frustration and mental stress that was caused by the loss of his money. He decided to poison the boss.
Mr. Sheldon who worked as a volunteer with the central park medical unit was emotionally disturbed as he felt guilty concerning the death of the two. Previously, he had an opportunity to interact with the two deceased persons before they met their death in their lines of duty. Mr. Mac, a team member, sensed that there was something that Mr. Sheldon was hiding either concerning the death of the victims or something which could lead to the arrest of killers, but he did not bother to press him.
On a different occasion in the same show, it happens that Mr. Mac and Mr. Sheldon were tracing the killer. When they found the killer and he tried to commit suicide, the secret kept by Mr. Sheldon is revealed. Each member of the team is shocked by these revelations. Mr. Sheldon had lost everything just like the killer, and he did not like the person he had turned to be after losing everything and selling his apartment. Mr. Mac offered to support him by letting him to stay in his guest room until he could be able to support himself financially.
In the above case involving Mr. Sheldon and the killer, it can be related to the study of the Forensics psychology in various ways. Mr. Sheldon is mentally disturbed by the loss he incurred. On the other hand, the killer is also mentally unstable after losing all his savings. This leads him to commenting crime. It is evident that crimes are mostly committed by persons when their state of mind is not stable.
The killer committed the crime when his mind was highly distorted by the loss of his lifetime saving thus his mind was not functioning in the right way. It was due to stress that he committed the crime. When he was being chased by Mr. Mac and Mr. Sheldon, he attempted to commit suicide. Mr. Sheldon tries to encourage him not to attempt killing himself by narrating his story, which is somehow similar to that of the killer.
According to Wood, Wood and Boyd (2010), a forensic psychologist is supposed to get “inside” someone’s mind and try to assess the mental ability of the person or the individual’s current cognitive. One has to play as a detective and try to examine and understand the mental status of the criminal and even try to predict the future behavior of the person.
Any forensic psychology activist must bear in mind that the investigation involved in forensics should be ready to dig deep in the cognitive functioning of the criminal in order to gather the essential information. He or she must try all means to protect the interest of the criminal in order to be able to establish the reasons behind his or her acts or committing the crime.
Wood, Wood and Boyd, (2010), notes that there are some legal issues attributed to criminal law that play a major role in Forensics psychology. This includes the “men’s rea” which is a principle of criminals. It relates to individual’s cognitive functioning. It means that that the individual committed the crime willingly or with a purpose. Forensics psychologists are entitled to distinguish either the defendant is suffering from a guilt mind.
It is the responsibility of forensics psychologists to advice the court on the mental status of the accused persons or of other stakeholders of a particular case. Forensic psychologists are also expected to advice the court whether the defendant is suffering from any mental illness and if it contributed in any way forming his “men’s rea” (act of being guilty), and thus committing the said crime.
As forensics psychology involves use of personal intelligence in order to make conclusive judgments about the person. According to Sternberg, Mio and Mio (2009), there are three ways of utilizing the intelligent capacity to come out with a comprehensive judgment of crime committed this may include componential intelligence, experiential and contextual intelligences. A Forensics psychologist should be able to apply these three categories of intelligence in order to extract any information from the criminal.
Mr. Sheldon in the identified case tries to use his personal intelligence in order to ensure that the killer reveals all the information concerning the crime committed. Mr. Sheldon tells his story to the killer in order to give him hope and also to be able to encourage him to speak and explain why he committed the crime, giving details that are necessary in solving the case.
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Therefore, from this case, one can be able to establish the exact cause of the crime by understanding the cognitive functioning of a suspect. Various techniques can be used to establish what the causal factors to a specific crime are. This way, the role of criminal psychologists in the pursuit of justice cannot be underestimated.
Sternberg, R. J., Mio, J. & Mio, J., S. (2009) Cognitive psychology.5th ED. New York. Cengage Learning,
Wood, S., E., Wood, E., G. & Boyd, D. (2010).The World of Psychology. New York. Prentice Hall.