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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 49641 Find in a Library
Title: ALTERNATIVES IN PSYCHIATRIC TESTIMONY ON DANGEROUSNESS
Journal: JOURNAL OF FORENSIC SCIENCES  Volume:23  Issue:3  Dated:(JULY 1978)  Pages:588-595
Author(s): J T SMITH; M J ENGLISH
Corporate Author: American Acad of Forensic Sciences
United States of America
Date Published: 1978
Page Count: 8
Sponsoring Agency: American Acad of Forensic Sciences
Colorado Springs, CO 80901-0669
Saint Elizabeth's Hospital
Washington, DC 20032
Sale Source: Saint Elizabeth's Hospital
Division of Forensic Programs
2690-2698 M L King Jr Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20032
United States of America
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: PSYCHIATRISTS AND COURTS SHOULD BE AWARE OF ISSUES INVOLVED WITH THE PSYCHIATRIST'S EXPERT TESTIMONY CONCERNING THE PREDICTION OF VIOLENT ACTS IN CIVIL AND CRIMINAL COMMITMENT CASES.
Abstract: IN MANY STATE JURISDICTIONS, PSYCHIATRISTS MAY FIND THEMSELVES TESTIFYING IN COURT CONCERNING PREDICTIONS OF DANGEROUSNESS IN TWO SITUATIONS: (1) DURING THE PROCESS OF INVOLUNTARY CIVIL COMMITMENT OR COMMITMENT AFTER A FINDING OF NOT GUILTY BY REASON OF INSANITY IN A CRIMINAL CASE AND (2) UPON PETITION FOR A CONDITIONAL OR UNCONDITIONAL RELEASE AFTER COMMITMENT IN A CRIMINAL CASE. TRADITIONALLY, THE PSYCHIATRIST HAS BEEN VIEWED AS AN EXPERT AND IMPARTIAL WITNESS WHO PRESENTS OBJECTIVE INFORMATION TO THE COURT. ANOTHER VIEW SUGGESTS THAT THE NATURE OF THE PROCEEDING, REGARDING PREDICTIONS OF DANGEROUSNESS, NECESSITATES THAT PSYCHIATRISTS VIEW THEMSELVES AS ADVOCATES. RULES OF EVIDENCE IN A PARTICULAR JURISDICTION DETERMINE WHAT EXPERT TESTIMONY MAY BE HEARD AND IN WHAT MANNER. OF CRUCIAL IMPORTANCE IS THAT EXPERT WITNESSES BE AWARE OF THEIR GOALS AS WITNESSES; THE GOAL SHOULD BE TO USE A TESTIMONIAL APPROACH THAT SUCCESSFULLY PRESENTS FACTS AND PROFESSIONAL OPINIONS TO THE COURT. THE PSYCHIATRIST CAN EXPLAIN THE SIGNIFICANCE OF CERTAIN BEHAVIOR PATTERNS AND DESCRIBE THE DYNAMICS OF MENTAL ILLNESS AND THE POTENTIAL IMPACT OF PROPOSED TREATMENT FOR THE COURT. THE PROCESS OF EDUCATING THE COURTS MAY BEST BE ACHIEVED BY PRESENTING, OUT OF THE CONTEXT OF SPECIFIC LITIGATION, A MEMORANDUM OR POSITION STATEMENT THAT ADDRESSES THE ISSUE OF PREDICTING DANGEROUSNESS. THIS MEMORANDUM SHOULD BE DISTRIBUTED TO MEMBERS OF THE JUDICIARY WHO ARE INVOLVED IN CIVIL OR CRIMINAL COMMITMENT PROCESSES. THE COURTS SHOULD BE MADE AWARE OF BOTH THE CAPABILITIES AND LIMITATIONS OF THE PSYCHIATRIST REGARDING THE ROLE OF PREDICTOR OF FUTURE DANGEROUSNESS. A LIST OF REFERENCES IS PROVIDED. (DEP)
Index Term(s): Civil commitment; Crime prediction; Expert witnesses; Psychiatry; Violence; Violent offenders
To cite this abstract, use the following link:
http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=49641

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