FORENSIC PSYCHOLOGY LECTURE 1

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1 FORENSIC PSYCHOLOGY LECTURE 1 An Introduction and the Criminal Justice System in Ireland 1

2 Recommended Reading Howitt, Dennis. (2009), Introduction to Forensic and Criminal Psychology: 3rd Edition. London: Pearson Prentice Hall Chapter 1, 2 & 3. O' Mahony, M. (1997), Mountjoy Prisoners: A Sociological and Criminological Profile. Government Publications. Hollin, C.R. (1989), Psychology and Crime: An Introduction to Criminological Psychology. London: Falmer Press. Hollin, C.R. (1992), Criminal Behaviour: A Psychological Approach to Explanation and Prevention. London: Falmer Press. O' Mahony, P. (1995), Crime and Punishment in Ireland. Round Hall Sweet and Maxwell. Chapters 4 & 5 2

3 Aims of Lecture Understand the alliance between psychology and law. Describe forensic psychology and criminal psychology and where forensic psychologists are employed. Explain the difficulties with defining crime and describe the various views on defining crime. Examine some of the issues associated with the criminal justice system in Ireland. Gain an insight into the background of an Irish prisoner. 3

4 Psychology and Law Carson & Bull (1995) At the heart of law and psychology lies a conundrum Howitt (2009) The relationship between psychology and the law has not always been an easy one Legaland and Mentaland Although very different disciplines, psychology is bound in law and the legal system. Commonalities exist between psychology and law - Both have human nature for their subject matter both try to understand and predict human behaviour both focus on the individual, although their behaviour might be shaped by others. The law has the assumption that people operate as a result of free will, and sets out to make the individual responsible for their actions. Psychology is directed towards an explanation or prediction of the factors determining behaviour (biological, psychological, environmental). 4

5 An Introduction Criminal Psychology is the study of criminal behaviour (Howitt, 2009). The term forensic is generally used to refer to psychologists who work with offenders, and/or victims of crime. Forensic psychology is concerned with the application of psychological principles within the judicial system, as it examines the interface between criminal justice and psychology. Wrightsman (2001) regards forensic psychology as any application of psychological knowledge or methods to a task faced by the legal system. The focus of this course places an emphasis on the practical application of psychological theory in a forensic environment. The course aims to train students to apply psychological insights, concepts and skills to the understanding and functioning of the legal and criminal justice system. 5

6 Roles of the Forensic Psychologist Haward (1981) roles of psychologists in criminal proceedings include clinical, experimental, actuarial and advisory roles. Clinical Role Clinical interviewing, psychological assessments/evaluations, question of psychological disorder, psychometric testing, etc. Experimental Role Experiments for the defence/prosecution eye witness testimony. Actuarial Role Statistical probabilities to behavioural data. Probabilistic reasoning. The incidence of a given human event in an appropriate sample of the population, i.e. young male drivers. Advisory Role Examining the evidence of other experts. defence/prosecution. Investigative psychology. Advice to 6

7 What does a Forensic Psychologist do? Forensic Psychologists are involved in the practical application of psychology in forensic environments They generally work with offenders and/or victims of crime Where? Prisons, hospitals, law enforcement settings, court. Who? Juvenile offenders, paedophiles, spousal abusers, psychopaths, terrorists, those suffering from mental disorder, homicidal offenders, stalkers, sex offenders, etc. Tasks include: Eyewitness testimony. Clinical interviews. Psychological tests. Forensic profiling. Risk Assessments. Treatment i.e. cognitive behavioural programmes, therapy, etc. Academia and research Jury selection. Liaison with those that are involved in the criminal justice system offenders, police, legal profession, courts, prisons, probation and welfare service, victim support, NGO s, criminologists, social workers, hospitals. 7

8 Crime Crime is a term that is relative and culturally defined although it exists among all social classes, both the type of crime committed and the extent to which the law is enforced vary, i.e. t is punished. No single definition exists - Various definitions influenced by public opinion. An act punishable by law (English Dictionary) An act, which is harmful to social well-being and is judged to be deserving of public attention through the application of State power (Giddens). Criminal behaviour is an act that violates criminal law and may therefore be followed by criminal proceedings and attracts the appropriate punishment. (Hollin, 1999) Anything forbidden or punishable by the criminal justice system. (Feldman, 1993) 8

9 Defining Crime - Hollin (1999) The Consensus View Functionalist perspective from sociological research. The idea of society functioning as the member respects a whole, and norms, rules and values because of consensus or agreement s of that society. The majority in that society meets a crime with disapproval. 9

10 Defining Crime - Hollin (1999) The Conflict View Opposed to the Consensus view. Argues that society operates as a collection of competing diverse groups, rather than a unified whole. Unequal distribution of wealth and power. This conflict promotes crime - Marxist theory. 10

11 Defining Crime - Hollin (1999) The Internationalist View The Interactionalist view lies between the consensus view and the conflict view. It began with symbolic internationalism (Blumer, 1969) and focuses on meaning. The behaviour of an individual is guided by their interpretation of reality and the meaning events have for them. The meaning is learned from the way other people react, (positive or negative) towards any given person or situation. Therefore, one s behaviour is made according to the meanings learned and acquired from others. 11

12 Criminal Justice System The criminal justice system is complex, but in essence, promotes law abiding behaviour and discourages law-breaking behaviour. There are many components to and issues associated with the criminal justice system, i.e. Types of crime murder, rape, theft, fraud, public order, etc. Recording and classification of crime Crime prevention, Imprisonment Penal policy Sentencing Case law decisions, etc 12

13 Criminal Justice System Feldman (1993) four components of the criminal justice system Offences, Offenders, the Police and the Courts. Irish context - The offence, the offender, the police, the courts, the probation and welfare service, the prison service and the Department of Justice. Chief State Solicitor, Director of Prosecutions, An Garda Síochána. 13

14 Crime and Mental Illness M Naghten Rules (Not guilty by reason of insanity) 1843 Daniel McNaughton charged with shooting the Prime Minister s secretary in the belief that it was the Prime Minister himself - House of Lords laid down the rules: Labouring under such a defect of reason, from disease of the mind as not to know.. The nature and quality of the act he was doing, or if he did know That he did not know he was doing what was wrong (Actus Rea Guilty Act..Mens Rea Guilty Mind) 14

15 Mountjoy Prison Study Reference: Crime & Punishment in Ireland, 1993 Reference: O' Mahony, M. (1997), Mountjoy Prisoners: A Sociological and Criminological Profile. Government Publications. Paul O Mahony, (1986, 1997) Study of the personal, social and criminal backgrounds of a sample of Mountjoy prisoners. Sample survey in Mountjoy prison use of structured interview and the Dublin Criminal Record Sample was 95 male prisoners. (N=110) aged years Sample was 108 male prisoners. (N=124) aged years Average age of offenders was 27 years Average age of offenders was 28 years Majority under 25 in both studies 15

16 Mountjoy Prison Study Employment % had been unemployed prior to imprisonment % had been unemployed prior to imprisonment Juvenile Offenders % had served a sentence in St. Patricks Institution % had served a sentence in St. Patricks Institution. Marriage % have never been married % have never been married. Parenthood % reported having children % reported having children. Place of Residence Over 75% came from Dublin, with the majority of others from urban areas % came from Dublin, with the majority of others from urban areas. 16

17 Mountjoy Prison Study Family History in Prison % had first degree relative in prison % had first degree relative in prison Alcohol/Smoking % drank alcohol/ 80% smokers % drank alcohol/ 91% smokers. Drug Use % had used cannabis, 37% had used drugs other than cannabis % had used cannabis, 77% had used drugs other than cannabis. Education % had dropped out of school before they were % had dropped out of school before they were

18 Mountjoy Prison Study What psychological issues arise from the Study? What are the causes of criminal behaviour? 18

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