Forensic Psychology in Criminal Justice
The notions of criminal justice and forensic (also known as legal) psychology are closely linked to each other. The development of psychological science led to certain changes in the criminal justice processes (Forbes, 2016). The most interesting thing about forensic psychology is that the psychologists that are active in this area are trying their best to find out the underlying reasons for committing a crime. This includes the breakdown of all compelling forces and mental causes that can influence the outcomes.
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Therefore, the impact on the criminal justice process can be characterized as critical due to its pivotal association with the crime investigation methodology. The importance of forensic psychology for court and criminal justice can be explained as the identification of who and how to charge (Shanafelt & Pino, 2015). One of the most prevalent examples of the connection between psychology and criminal justice is the use of the word “insanity.” For the majority of individuals, this is a psychological term, but it eventually bears more resemblances to the legal side of the question. It is safe to say that if the person, for instance, was not aware of the actions that they committed, they can be considered legally insane.
This leads to the conclusion that legally insane individuals are tried and sentenced differently (Shanafelt & Pino, 2015). This divergence in the verdicts can only be supported by research conducted by forensic psychologist due to the specifics of the issue. In the US, according to the legislation, no one can be charged for wrongdoing activity if they were “legally insane” throughout the time of committing the crime (Fox & Levin, 2015). It can be concluded that the impact of forensic psychology on criminal justice system of the United States of America should never be underestimated.
On a bigger scale, forensic psychologists shaped a different system that helps the government to achieve justice but with the use of a number of adjustments that can help judges make the ultimate verdict as objective as possible. The appropriateness of the sentence is also influenced by forensic psychologists as the latter provide an unequivocal contribution to the discussion of a criminal’s consciousness and cognitive functioning (Forbes, 2016). The help of forensic psychologists is also represented by their willingness to examine the suspects within the environment of a health care facility specializing in mental health issues.
Correctional Psychology in Criminal Justice
Another area where psychology can be useful for the criminal justice processes is corrections. There are several roles that can be taken by psychologists throughout the trial process (including consulting services and being an expert witness for either prosecution or defense). No matter what the situation is, psychologists are always perceived as advisors that can majorly contribute to the process of reaching the ultimate verdict. They are recurrently addressing the previous research projects and the data that they obtained during an examination of a criminal so as to help judges to make the correct decision (Forbes, 2016). It is safe to say that when it comes to corrections, the opinions of forensic psychologists are taken rather seriously.
The problem with the US criminal justice system consists in the fact that judges are the last instance when it is time to decide whether to allow the testimony of an expert witness or not. The biggest issue with the existing criminal justice system is that psychologists are required to disclose their findings irrespective of either they are being asked to do it or not. The biggest upside to having a correctional psychologist in court is that they have the ability to evaluate the issue from numerous perspectives and remain objective.
Nonetheless, courts may be exposed to the ethical issue of making decisions of the data that is not empirical. So as to make sure that the decision is as objective as possible, a number of guidelines were outlined by the American Psychological Association. This happened because correctional psychology is rather multifaceted and cannot be approached wholly within the existing framework of criminal justice in the US (Fox & Levin, 2015). Psychologists that operate in this particular area should be aware of all the potential risks and realize that numerous mental health requirements should be outlined. Correctional psychology is closely related to the concept of protecting both criminals and their potential victims from negative consequences of their interaction.
Correctional psychologists have to take care of inmates that suffer from any kind of mental illnesses and prevent them from committing suicide or exhibiting violent behaviors. When in court, correctional psychologists may seriously contribute to the formation of judges’ opinion concerning what kind of punishment to impose on a wrongdoer (Shanafelt & Pino, 2015). The ultimate responsibility of a correctional psychologist is to make sure that all ethical dilemmas are resolved and the most objective verdict is reached (despite the pressure coming from society, judges, or any other parties involved). The impact of correctional psychology on the US criminal justice system can also be easily spotted owing to its close association with the due process protection.
Forbes, R. (2016). Criminal psychology: Understanding the criminal mind and its nature through criminal profiling. New York, NY: Kimmers Publishing.
Fox, J. A., & Levin, J. (2015). Extreme killing: Understanding serial and mass murder. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
Shanafelt, R., & Pino, N. (2015). Rethinking serial murder, spree killing and atrocities: Beyond the usual distinctions. London, UK: Routledge.