The forensic psychologist can act in many spheres of the judicial world, and one of them is the prison supervision courts..
Through this article we will try to clarify what is the task of this professional in this specific area, reviewing the different types of situation that can arise and what are the general lines that will always govern your action when carrying out an expert report.
The psychology of experts in prison supervision courts: what does it consist of?
To understand what expert psychology is in prison oversight courts, one must first be clear about the role of a forensic psychologist, regardless of the court in which he or she works. this professional will make an expert report in order to provide an expert point of view on psychological issues, so that the judge in question has this analysis. be able to make an informed decision.
These reports are usually requested by the same judge on the team of psychologists assigned to his court. At other times, it is the parties involved who hire a private expert psychologist to do their own report and even a counter report, in an attempt to try to show a second opinion from a professional that matches their interests.
The psychology of experts in prison supervision courts refers to the work of psychological experts within the framework of these courts, which would fall within the scope. Within this branch, they intervene in legal proceedings when a person has been sentenced to a sentence for which he has been deprived of his liberty.
In this scenario, the forensic psychologist can perform several tasks. We will see that later.
Types of functions in this scope of work
As we go along, within the expert psychology of prison supervision courts, there are different types of forensic reports that may be required by a judge. These are the main ones.
1. danger and probability of recurrence
One of the first questions in which the expert psychologist had particular importance in the field of prison supervision, as it cannot be otherwise, is the assessment of the danger of prisoners and, in a related manner, the probability that he will have to relapse, Either with a crime similar to the one that led him to prison, or with another guy.
The aim of the deprivation of liberty is not only to punish the individual for the commission of a crime, but also to seek reintegration, that is to say to end his sentence, to return to society with certain guarantees that he will not reoffend. For this, they carry a series of internal programs and there are prison psychologists to do personalized follow-ups on inmates.
Unfortunately, the means are very limited, and the reality is that each of these psychologists is assigned the files of several hundred detainees, so the time he can devote to each is rather short.
In any case, and to return to the subject before us, the first task of the expert in psychology in the prison supervision courts will be precisely to estimate the probability that a person who is serving a sentence could repeat crimes, based on simply psychosocial factors.
2. Possible alterations and psychopathologies
Another important task of forensic psychologists in this field will be to conduct studies relevant to the search for possible psychopathological alterations in the prisoner which interfere with his rehabilitation and against which, therefore, it will be necessary to provide him with resources to be able to improve, as much for his own good as for that of the society in which he will be reintegrated when he fulfills the sentence imposed on him. him.
This function of expert in psychology in the penitentiary supervision courts is also of vital importance, because it makes it possible to increase the chances of reintegration of the prisoner as well as to make him gain in quality of life, assuming that a certain psychopathology is detected that can be treated. and apply the appropriate treatment for it.
3. Possibility of probation
When the judge decides whether or not to grant the probation regime to an inmate, as long as he meets the legal requirements, he will always do so by evaluating all available information. And in this information has a particular relevance the work carried out by expert psychologists, who assess the subject’s mental state, behavior and foresight whether or not he commits new crimes if he is released.
Therefore, another of the issues dealt with by psychology experts in prison supervision courts will be to advise the judge, if necessary, to give his professional opinion on the possible release of an individual from prison.
4. Follow-up after leaving prison
The expert psychology of the prison monitoring courts is not only responsible for what happens before and during a prisoner’s stay in prison, but the justice system will also monitor after release from prison. As in the previous cases, the work of the psychologist will be vital.
He will be responsible for verifying that, in fact, the person has been reintegrated into society. and the chances of recidivism are not worrisome, as he has the necessary protective factors to be able to find the resources that will allow him to act differently from the one that took him to prison in the past.
5. Degree changes
We saw earlier that the judge could request a forensic report from an expert psychologist to assess a possible probation. It can also lead to a change of degree in the prison system, Passage from the second degree (usual in prison) to the third, in which day trips are generally authorized, provided certain conditions are met.
But grade changes can also be regressive. In other words, if a person has obtained the third degree, but their behavior does not comply with the requirements of the law (respect of schedules, good behavior, etc.), the judge can decide that the change has not been made. timely and could therefore rule on a second-degree regression and therefore on his return to full-time prison.
6. Exit permit
Even if you stay in the second year, some exit permits are granted to inmates for a limited time. and provided that a number of very strict requirements are met. But in addition to these conditions, the judge can also rely on the professional opinion delivered by the expert in psychology to the prison supervision courts.
Therefore, you can ask the forensic psychologist for an expert report evaluating the advisability of granting a certain permit to the inmate in question, taking into account the factors that we have already seen before, such as the behavior maintained in the prison. , The possibility of recurrence, etc.
Ultimately, the work of the forensic psychologist in this scenario will be estimate the likelihood of the inmate breaking the licenseIn other words, he commits a crime in this course or does not comply with the regulations imposed on him (distance, schedules and others). If the expert’s assessment is negative, it is very likely that the judge will decide not to grant leave.
How is a forensic report prepared in prison supervision courts
Although, in general, forensic reports generally have a similar structure, the conditions of expert psychology in prison supervision courts give them some special characteristics.
When the forensic psychologist receives the judge’s request, the first thing he needs to do is consult the file of the specific legal procedure to know in depth all the details of the case. In addition, he will request all the data provided by the penitentiary establishment in which he is located or by the institution in charge of its supervision.
Then will have to make an exploration of the trainee himself, through an interview and diagnostic tests that he considers appropriate to apply be able to come to well-founded conclusions. Once you have all the necessary information, you will proceed with the drafting of the forensic report which will be submitted to the judge.
The process of psychological expertise in prison supervision courts does not end there, but the expert should also be responsible for monitoring the whole process to verify that it runs smoothly. If you notice any anomalies during the same period, it will be your duty to inform the judge.
- Amaya, S. (2019). Epistemology and Forensic Psychology: A Practical Guide for Psychologists and Lawyers. Modern manual.
- Llop, A., Espinosa, A., Guerrero, A., Ospina, V. (2016). Forensic psychology in criminal proceedings with an accusatory tendency. Practical guide for psychologists and lawyers.
- Rodriguez, EE (2003). Criminal danger assessment (risk-violence) in forensic psychology: conceptual and historical approach. Forensic and forensic clinical psychopathology.