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Forensic Psychology


Adolescent Brains and Juvenile Justice

Researchers Identify Gene Linked to PTSD

Violence: An American Archetype

Alone: The Mental Health Effects of Solitary Confinement

People See Sexy Pictures of Women as Objects, Not People

Children in U.S. and U.K. Share Risk Factors for Behavior Problems

Kudzu May Curb Binge Drinking, New Study Suggests

The Pain of Social Rejection: As far as the brain is concerned, a broken heart may not be so different from a broken arm.

Foul-Mouthed Characters in Teen Books Have It All



emotional awareness



Significant Reduction in Serious Juvenile Crimes after Emotional Awareness Training

July 3, 2015—Scientists believe that a simple two-hour emotional awareness course aimed at making young offenders less aggressive could hold the key to significantly reducing the seriousness of their future crimes.

In the first ever study of its kind, psychologists from Cardiff University recorded a 44% drop in the severity of crimes committed by persistent reoffenders, six months following the completion of a course designed to improve their ability to recognise other people's emotions. The findings are published today in PLOS ONE journal.

Much has been published previously to suggest that adolescents who display antisocial behaviour have problems in facial emotional recognition, particularly fear and sadness. By heightening their ability to perceive these emotions, researchers believe they can instil in young offenders a stronger sense of empathy for potential victims, and consequently a reduction in physical aggression and instances of severe crime.
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Nearly Half of African-American Women Know Someone in Prison

June 12, 2015—African-American adults—particularly women—are much more likely to know or be related to someone behind bars than whites, according to the first national estimates of Americans' ties to prisoners.
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People Can Be Convinced They Committed a Crime That Never Happened

January 15, 2015—Evidence from some wrongful-conviction cases suggests that suspects can be questioned in ways that lead them to falsely believe in and confess to committing crimes they didn't actually commit. New research provides lab-based evidence for this phenomenon, showing that innocent adult participants can be convinced, over the course of a few hours, that they had perpetrated crimes as serious as assault with a weapon in their teenage years.
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Compensation and Punishment: "Justice" Depends on Whether or Not We're a Victim

October 28, 2014—We’re more likely to punish wrongdoing as a third party to a non-violent offense than when we’re victimized by it, according to a new study by New York University psychology researchers. The findings, which appear in the journal Nature Communications, may offer insights into how juries differ from plaintiffs in seeking to restore justice.
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Are State Medicaid Policies Sentencing People with Mental Illnesses to Prison?

July 22, 2014—Researchers from the USC Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics have linked tighter Medicaid policies governing antipsychotic drugs with increased incarceration rates for schizophrenic individuals.
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New Research Examines Women Who Kill Their Children

July 10, 2014—Research by the University of Huddersfield’s Dr Helen Gavin will make an impact on psychiatrists, psychologists and other clinicians around the world who are trying to comprehend and reduce child-killing by women.
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Victims Want to Change, Not Just Punish, Offenders

May 14, 2014—Revenge is a dish best served with a side of change. A series of experiments conducted by researchers affiliated with Princeton University has found that punishment is only satisfying to victims if the offenders change their attitude as a result of the punishment.
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Distance Influences Accuracy of Eyewitness Identification


First study to use controlled outside setting and actual people to test eyewitness accuracy across a variety of distances

May 13, 2014—Eyewitness accuracy declines steadily and quite measuredly as the distance increases. Additionally, a good deal of guess work or so-called "false alarms" also comes into play as the distance increases. These findings have implications for the trustworthiness of eyewitness accounts that are used to solve criminal cases. Research led by James Lampinen of the University of Arkansas in the US and published in Springer's journal Psychonomic Bulletin & Review sheds light on the matter.
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Emotional Children's Testimonies Are Judged as More Credible

MAR 17, 2014—A new study from the University of Gothenburg, show that aspiring lawyers assess child complainants as more credible and truthful if they communicate their statement in an emotional manner. Thus, there is a risk that children that behave in a neutral manner may be perceived as less credible in court.
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Prison-Based Education Declined during Economic Downturn, Study Finds


More work is needed to better focus spending

February 18, 2014—State-level spending on prison education programs declined sharply during the economic downturn, with the sharpest drop occurring in states that incarcerate the most prisoners, according to a new RAND Corporation study.
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After Committing a Crime, Guilt and Shame Predict Re-Offense

February 11, 2014—Within three years of being released from jail, two out of every three inmates in the US wind up behind bars again—a problem that contributes to the highest incarceration rate of any country in the world. New research suggests that the degree to which inmates’ express guilt or shame may provide an indicator of how likely they are to re-offend.
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Mounting Evidence Links Lead's Toxic Effects to Criminal Behavior

February 5, 2014—When crime rates drop, politicians like to give themselves pats on the back for being "tough on crime." But a new theory explaining why violence has declined across the country since the 1990s is gaining credence, and it has nothing to do with the criminal justice system. An article in Chemical & Engineering News details the mounting data that suggests taking lead out of gas and paint has played a critical role.
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What Last Meals Can Tell Us About Guilt and Innocence

January 23, 2014—Can last meals reveal more about individuals on death row than their taste preference? Some have argued there is significance embedded in death row last meal decisions.
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Prisoners Believe They Are Just as Law Abiding as Non-Prisoners

January 9, 2014—The belief that we consider ourselves better than our peers holds true to convicted criminals as well. Research from the University of Southampton has shown that prisoners believe themselves to have more pro-social characteristics—such as kindness, morality, self-control, and generosity—than non-prisoners..
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Up to 1 in 4 Female Prisoners in England and Wales Self-Harm

December 15, 2013—Led by Dr. Seena Fazel and Professor Keith Hawton from the University of Oxford in the UK, the study examined the prevalence of self-harm in all prisoners in England and Wales between 2004 and 2009—a total of 139,195 incidents of self-harm, involving 26,510 inmates. Risk factors for self-harm were assessed and compared with those of the general prison population, and associations with suicide examined.
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Newly Released Prisoners at Increased Risk of Suicide

December 13, 2013—Research on the mortality of released prisoners is sparse and what research has been conducted has mainly focused on drug-related causes of death. Researchers in the U.K. recently undertook a systematic review to investigate the risk of suicide in recently released prisoners. Released prisoners are almost seven times more likely to commit suicide than the general population, the review of international research has revealed.
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Services Fail to Treat Prisoners with Schizophrenia—Increasing Risk of Violent Reoffending


New research shows released prisoners with schizophrenia are three times more likely to be violent than other prisoners, but only if they receive no treatment or follow-up support from mental health services.

November 19, 2013—Maintaining psychiatric treatment both during imprisonment and after release can substantially reduce the risk of violent reoffending. Better screening and treatment of prisoners is therefore essential to prevent violence.
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Study on Incarcerated Youth Shows Mindfulness Training May Lower Anti-Social Behavior and Recidivism

October 31, 2013—Researchers at the New York University College of Nursing (NYUCN), the University of Miami, and the Lionheart Foundation in Boston, found that mindfulness training, a meditation-based therapy, can improve attention skills in incarcerated youth, paving the way to greater self-control over emotions and actions.  It is the first study to show that mindfulness training can be used in combination with cognitive behavioral therapy to protect attentional functioning in high-risk incarcerated youth.
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Prison Education Cuts Recidivism and Improves Employment, Study Finds

August 22, 2013—Prison inmates who receive general education and vocational training are significantly less likely to return to prison after release and are more likely to find employment than peers who do not receive such opportunities, according to a new RAND Corporation report.
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Could Brain Scans Predict Future Criminal Behavior?

ALBUQUERQUE, NM and DURHAM, NC; March 28, 2013—A new study conducted by The Mind Research Network in Albuquerque, N.M., shows that neuroimaging data can predict the likelihood of whether a criminal will reoffend following release from prison.

The paper, which is to be published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, studied impulsive and antisocial behavior and centered on the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), a portion of the brain that deals with regulating behavior and impulsivity.

The study demonstrated that inmates with relatively low anterior cingulate activity were twice as likely to reoffend than inmates with high-brain activity in this region.
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Juvenile Justice Reforms Should Incorporate Science of Adolescent Development

WASHINGTON; November 13, 2012—Legal responses to juvenile offending should be grounded in scientific knowledge about adolescent development and tailored to an individual offender's needs and social environment, says a new report from the National Research Council. Accountability practices should not be carried over from criminal courts to juvenile courts; in particular, confinement should be used only in rare circumstances such as when a youth poses a high risk of harming others.
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Research Shows Systematic Incarceration of African American Males is a Wrong, Costly Path

Nashville, Tennessee, November 12, 2012—Mental health experts from Meharry Medical College School of Medicine have released the first comprehensive report on the correlation between the incarceration of African American males and substance abuse and other health problems in the United States.

Published in Frontiers in Psychology on the 12th of November, the report looks at decades of data concerning the African American population rates of incarceration and subsequent health issues. The authors conclude that the moral and economic costs of current racial disparities in the judicial system are fundamentally avoidable, especially if more resources are spent on education and treatment.
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Study: Parole Decisions Affect Rehabilitation Incentives

CHAMPAIGN, IL; September 17, 2012—Long mandatory minimum sentences or strong limits on judicial discretion can counter-productively reduce the incentives of prison inmates to engage in rehabilitative behavior, thereby raising recidivism rates, according to published research co-written by a University of Illinois economics professor.
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Making Sense of the Insanity Defense

December 1, 2010—Some of the persistent understandings people hold about the insanity plea include the belief that it is overused, that it is a defense "tactic," that most people who use it are faking, that it is often successful, and that those who succeed get off "scot-free" and back on the streets. Are these impressions accurate?
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