Forensic Psychology the Death Penalty

Topics: Forensic psychology, Convention on the Rights of the Child, Expert witness Pages: 2 (561 words) Published: February 20, 2011
Application 1

Randal Huff


Forensic psychology deals with the field of psychology and the law. The death penalty has always been, and will always be, a topic of controversy from the issue of its constitutionality to the variability in its application.

The article I read provides focus upon the role of the forensic psychologist, specifically as it applies to mitigation (Atkins at el). Psychologists were beginning to act as expert witnesses in criminal trials throughout Europe. In 1896, a psychologist by the name of Albert von Schrenck-Notzing testified at a murder trial about the effects of suggestibility on witness testimony (Bartol, 2005). Popular movies, television programs and books have help popularize the field, often depicting brilliant heroes who solve vicious crimes or track down killers using psychology. I can remember watching CSI Miami, NCIA, The First 48 Hours, all the Saw Movies, and the Exorcism of Emily Rose. Media has illustrated how the field of psychology is used in the court room. The Exorcism of Emily Rose is my most current memory. The attorneys called upon both a medical doctor and a doctor of psychology to determine who was accountable of this girl’s death. Both used factual information and their professional opinion was considered greatly. However; while the medical doctor use factual information from a medical point of view. The Psychologist was able to incorporate a whole host of environmental factors. In my point of view, this made the testimony rich because it came from a holistic approach.

Forensic psychologists investigate cases of alleged child abuse, work with child witnesses, evaluate individuals involved in child custody disputes and assess mental competency. Although trained as a social worker (undergraduate and graduate levels) I worked with the Department of Children’s Services for a little over two years. I worked in the child protection unit. Once I began working I was promoted to the severe unit,...
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