Forensic psychology- after a guilty verdict

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  • Created by: anna
  • Created on: 29-01-14 17:54

Gillis and Nafekh

Aim: To investigate teh effect on recidivism rates of a community-based employment scheme 

Sample: 23, 525 federal offenders (95% men and the rest women) released between january 1998 and 2005

Method: content analysis of data from Canadas offender management system. Matched pairs design with 2 groups. those employed prior to release on a special programme and those who are unemployed. they were matched on gender, risk level, sentence length, family/ martial relations, substance abuse. 


  • the average time for the whole sample to get employment was 6 months= men 10 months = women 
  • those on employment programmes were more likely to remain on conditional release 
  • median time to return was also longer than the employed group (37 months vs. 11 months) 
  • 70% of employed group remained on conditional release compared to 55% with unemployed group 
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Aim: to investigate all unnatural deaths that occured in prisons in England and Wales between 1972 and 1987

Method: content analysis of prison department personal papers. using a checklist that included social psychiatric and forensic history was used to analyse the papers. Groups getting a verdict of suicide were compared to those who did not 

Results: 442 unatural deaths were recorded in prisons in England and Wales between 1972 and 1987 

  • 300 got a verdict of suicide and 52 got a verdict of consciously self inflicted injury 
  • more of the suicide group were on remand 
  • More of the CSI group were female and they occured at night 
  • most likely due to the overcrowding, as this increses prisoners stress and also increases prisoners interactions. 
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Haney and Zimbardo (part 1)

part 1 summary fo changes to the prison system over 25 years 

  • Ronald Raegan declared a 'war on drugs'. 
  • prison no longer about rehabilitation.
  • rigid sentencing, no parole for good behaivour 
  • USA puts more people in prison than any modern nation and recorded crime fell 
  • Prison population had a racial bias 48% of prison population african american whereas there only 6% of general population
  • hispanics and women also over represented
  • drug offenders over represented. 64% of black males and 71% of blakc females convicted comapred to 12% of white men 
  • this caused dispostional explanations of behaiviour among black men. 
  • super max prison= ultra secure, long term confinement, in there 23 out of 24 hours, little stimulaiton, reduced privaleges 
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Haney and Zimbardo (part 2)

Part 2: suggestions for improvements to the prison system 

1. prisons are psychologically damaging, alternatives should be used 

2. SPE had healthy young men and minimalist design, real prisons are overcrowded and contain mentally unstable people, individual differences in how a person adapts to confinement needs to be considered 

3. decompression programmes used on release, reversing effects of the extreme of prisons. 25% of prisoners who commited a non-violent crime are sentenced again for a violent one 

4. psychometric tests used but need more situationally specific assesments, when prisoners behaves violently needs to seen in context of event/ situation 

5. They lost objectivity in SPE so prisons need someone outside the system who is objective to act. 

6. need more psychology to be used in the prison system. 

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Mair and May

Aim: to investigate the experiences of offenders on probation in a cross section of offices in England and Wales 


  • total of 3299 were selected from 22 offices 
  • represented all crimes and age groups 
  • 40% dropped out and more failed to turn up to meetings 
  • small offices over represented so corrective weighting used 

Method: questionairre, used a pilot on 7 offices and 24 offenders, interviews conducted by independent researchers, covered a range of questions e.g. offenders life and likelehood of reoffending, used all closed questions, some likert scales 


  • 88% said probation was helpful 
  • 60% said probation officer would help them as they could discuss problems e.g. money 
  • 37% said it would stop them reoffending, and 1/3 did reoffend 
  • and a lot missed their appointments so excluded from analysis 
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Sherman and Strang

Aim: a review to look at good practice in restorative justice and to reach a conclusion on its effectiveness 

Sample: internet search including the words 'restorative justice' re-offending' 'recidivism' 'mediation' yielded 424 hits 

Method: two researchers analysed the content of all research found by search. Sample of offenders on a RJ programme compared to a similar sample with no RJ. Minimum standerd used by the home office to achieve reasonably unbiased results. This gave 36 studies, which were analysed... 


  • reduction in reoffending were found in violence and property crime 
  • more effective in cases with a personal victim 
  • if victims have been willing participants it can reduce post traumatic shock disorder 
  • its use should begin with young offenders
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Eberhardt et al.

Aim: to investigate the hypothesis that black offenders with sterotypical black features are more likely to get the death penalty 

Method: Lab experiement. analysis of cases in Philadelphia, that had advanced to death penalty phase between 1979 and 1999. In 44 cases a black man had murdered a white victim. Their photograph was shown to naieve raters who were asked to use their facial features, to give them a sterotypical rating of 1 to 11. There were 51 raters from Stanford University (32 white, 15 asian, and 4 other ethnicities). shown black and white photographs one at a time for 4 seconds. 


  • an analysis of covariance was used allowed them to consider factors that influence setencing such as aggravating circumstances, mitigating circumstances, severity of the murder. 
  • most significant variable was was most stereotypically black defendants were 57.5% more likely to recieve death penalty 
  • those who were less stereotypically black were at 24.4% 
  • In a second study, there was a black defendent and black victim, produced no significant effect. Black victim seen as less important. 
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Aim: To find out if cognitive skills programmes were effective at lowering re offending rates for women prisoners 

Sample: 180 offenders (including 14 non-completers) who started enhanced thinking skills (ETS) or R&R between 1996 and 2000. Comparison group included 540 female offenders. all had spent a year in community and had a sentence of 6 months or more. 

Method: expected 2 year re-conviction rates were calculated for all the women. matched for whether they were at high, low, medium risk of reconviction. actual re-conviction rates were calcualted for 1 and 2 years after release. programmes examined for effectiveness. 


  • no difference was found between the treated group on comparison groups on expected reconviction or actual reconviction after 1 or 2 years
  • no significant difference for ETS and R&R group actually got worse 
  • programmes only designed for men 
  • women offend for different reasons such as drug abuse, relationship problems, emotional facotrs.
  • programme not delivered consistently and limited in length 
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Aim: to asses whether anger management programmes work with groups of young male offenders

Participants: 50 prisoners who had completed the anger management course and 37 who were sutiable for the course but not had it. Matched on three criteria...

  • response to a cogntive behaivourial checklist 
  • wing behavioural checklist 
  • self report questionnairre on anger managment (AMA)

Method: quasi experiement. Both groups were given tests above before and after treatment programme. 


  • For experimental group there was a significant reduction in Wing-based aggresion. 
  • There was also reduction in self report measures in experimental group 
  • 92% showed improvement on at least one measure 
  • 48% on two measures 
  • 8% showed deterioration on 2 measures
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Participants: 350 prisoners in 6 high security prisons who recived acupuncture and completed FOCUS. With a control group who recived neither 

Method: two trained practioners working with 10-15 prisoners in a relaxed setting. needles put into 5 poitns in ear, and then tthey relaxed for 40 minutes. 

Qualititative results: prisoners reported better sleep, improved relaxation, better coping skills, reduced cravings for nicotine, made more effort to communicate with families and attend classes. Staff knew when prisoners had recieved acupuncture because wing was quieter. 

Quantitative results:

  • 70% reduction in drug-related incidents 
  • 41% reduction in serious incident reports
  • 42% reduction in mandatory postive drug tests 
  • 33% reduction in voluntary postive drug tests 

Should be used as a complementary therapy 

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