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From The CriticsReviewer: Christopher J Graver, PhD, ABPP-CN(Madigan Healthcare System)
Description: There have been many books recently addressing various issues in forensic psychology. Some have been complete handbooks, while others, like this one on criminal responsibility, focus on more specific issues. This is part of 19-book series on various topics.
Purpose: The aim is to provide information about best practices in the assessment of criminal responsibility that are in line with recommendations from the literature, current legal practice, and ethical standards.
Audience: According to the authors, this book is intended for clinicians who work in forensic environments, training supervisors, and students of these disciplines. The author is a board certified forensic psychologist who is well seasoned from research, training, and practice perspectives.
Features: The first three chapters go over the basic foundations of criminal responsibility evaluations. While they cover the relevant issues, from the Durham Rule to diminished capacity, they do so briefly. There are helpful notes in the margin for quick reference and easy learning of key topics. Cases presented towards the end of each chapter are relevant to the law or principles previously discussed. Other issues relevant to clinical practice are later described, such as accepting appropriate referrals, disclosure of the forensic role, and limits of confidentiality. Other ethical and legal problems related to defendant incrimination during the evaluation are discussed. Suggestions about information to be included in the examination and subsections for the report are included. The book ends by pointing out common mistakes made in the interpretation of the data. The appendix provides a useful table for finding criminal responsibility information for all 50 states at a glance. The references are up to date and the index is useful.
Assessment: What little information is contained in this book is useful and presented in an engaging manner, but it is far too meager to be of any real help. It does not discuss specific diseases that might be used to deflect criminal responsibility nor does it provide information about specific assessment instruments to assist the clinician. This is particularly disappointing when the series is broken up into 19 books, leading to the expectation of exceptional coverage of each topic. A singular, more comprehensive resource for forensic psychologists is Psychological Evaluations for the Courts: A Handbook for Mental Health Professionals and Lawyers, 3rd edition, Melton et al. (Guilford, 2007).