PCLR

Powerful Essays
Topics: Psychopathy
Mary Ann Roxas
ENC1102
The Problems with PCL-R Robert Dixon, Jr., a lifer who was incarcerated for the crime of being an asset to a murder, got 15 years to life in prison with a possibility of parole. Although as a teen, he was also convicted of date-raping a woman and beating another. He grew up being physically abused by his father and records showed threatening his life at age 10 and 12 as well as his father’s life (Spiegel). In the state of California, before a “lifer” proceeds to his parole hearing, criminal justice system administer series of psychological tests such as PCL-R. In November 2009, Dixon, Jr. took PCL-R or Psychopathic Checklist-Revised to see if he was a psychopath. A state psychologist evaluated him whether he would likely to commit future crimes after his release. He scored high that he was then categorized as one (Spiegel). Labelling a “psychopath” is highly stigmatizing and can have an impact on how a jury or a parole board view the offender. The PCL-R may have a strong predictive power in risk assessments and evaluations of recidivism to Sexually Violent Predators (DeMatteo & Edens, 216). However, it is flawed and investigators and specialist challenge the usefulness and reliability of this “checklist”. PCL-R should not be used solely to decide whether a prisoner is a psychopath or not. The problems with PCL-R draw incorrect conclusions; it lacks reliability; and it poses high risks of misuse.
In recent years, psychopathy assessments have increasingly been used not just on research setting but also in the criminal justice system. This is to predict the possibility of an offender’s potential risk for future recidivism (DeMatteo et al, 97). Dr. Robert Hare formulated PCL-R or Psychopathic Checklist-Revised in the early nineties, which consists of 20 items symptom rating scale. This allows qualified examiners to assess a person’s degree of psychopathy including “lack of conscience or sense of guilt, lack of empathy, egocentricity,



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