U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Innovations in Forensics - Developing Criteria for Determination of Dangerous Behavior

NCJ Number
Journal of Psychiatry and Law Volume: 7 Issue: 2 Dated: (Summer 1979) Pages: 187-198
J M Mullen; W B Norman
Date Published
12 pages
A multivariate approach employing psychological, social, and physiological variables is advocated as a replacement for the interdisciplinary team approach currently used in forensic psychiatry to assess the dangerousness of criminally insane patients and their competency to stand trial.
The mental health system is failing to decrease the criminal involvement of mental health patients because treatment programs do not effectively lower arrest rates of mental patients, and do not provide adequate aftercare and followup services following discharge. Also, assessment criteria developed by forensic clinicians through the interdisciplinary team approach fail to adequately weigh statistical correlations among individual findings and do not rely on applied statistical research. Instead, a systematic and comprehensive method of collecting information on the social, psychological, and physiological variables associated with criminally deviant behavior could result in test instruments for use in assessments of forensic patients. The next step would be development of a data base of the forensic patient population from social history information, tests, and medical and psychiatric information provided by medical personnel. The use of such data would enable hospital clinicians to provide more accurate decisions on a patient's competency to stand trial and his degree of responsibility for his behavior. Other benefits include the development of criteria for continued involuntary commitment of forensic patients and the formation of a research protocol for comparative studies among various groups of mental patients. As indicated from a factor analysis of data gathered in a Texas research project to develop criteria for determining the commitment status of involuntarily committed mental patients, criminal deviance, especially violence, is a multifactored phenomena that is psychological, social, and physiological in nature. Five references are provided.