Posts tagged forensic

The Clinical Neuropsychologist previously published a case study about KT, a serial killer who murdered at least 5 people in order to shed light on the still poorly understood “characteristics and scientific markers of serial murdering”. Researchers measured impairment and social/emotional cognitive deficits of KT using a battery of neuro/psych tests. 

KT exhibited a striking dissociation between a high level of emotional detachment and a low score on the antisocial behavior scale on the PCL-R. The MMPI-2 showed a normal pattern with the psychotic triad at borderline level.
KT had a high intelligence score and showed almost no impairment in cognitive tests sensitive to frontal lobe dysfunction (Wisconsin Card Sorting Test, Theory of Mind, Tower of London, this latter evidenced a mild impairment in planning performance). 
In the tests on moral, emotional and social cognition, his patterns of response differed from matched controls and from past reports on criminal psychopaths as, unlike these individuals, KT exhibited normal recognition of fear and a relatively intact knowledge of moral rules but he was impaired in the recognition of anger, embarrassment and conventional social rules.   [via: Cognitive, Emotional and Social Markers of Serial Murdering]

The results seem to high5 the spectrum babble that I babble about, probably shouldn’t do that anymore. Science-sigh. Anyway, how glad am I that they specified criminal psychopathy? Glad. What would I have liked to seen added? Empathy task, fMRI testing. Will I be able to shut up about this idea I have that might be not nothing? ugh.

The Clinical Neuropsychologist previously published a case study about KT, a serial killer who murdered at least 5 people in order to shed light on the still poorly understood “characteristics and scientific markers of serial murdering”. Researchers measured impairment and social/emotional cognitive deficits of KT using a battery of neuro/psych tests. 

KT exhibited a striking dissociation between a high level of emotional detachment and a low score on the antisocial behavior scale on the PCL-R. The MMPI-2 showed a normal pattern with the psychotic triad at borderline level.

KT had a high intelligence score and showed almost no impairment in cognitive tests sensitive to frontal lobe dysfunction (Wisconsin Card Sorting Test, Theory of Mind, Tower of London, this latter evidenced a mild impairment in planning performance).

In the tests on moral, emotional and social cognition, his patterns of response differed from matched controls and from past reports on criminal psychopaths as, unlike these individuals, KT exhibited normal recognition of fear and a relatively intact knowledge of moral rules but he was impaired in the recognition of anger, embarrassment and conventional social rules.   [via: Cognitive, Emotional and Social Markers of Serial Murdering]

The results seem to high5 the spectrum babble that I babble about, probably shouldn’t do that anymore. Science-sigh. Anyway, how glad am I that they specified criminal psychopathy? Glad. What would I have liked to seen added? Empathy task, fMRI testing. Will I be able to shut up about this idea I have that might be not nothing? ugh.

199 plays

Are you made of stone

A couple of British researchers just possibly enhanced (complicated) my empathy research jam. Good news: circuitry clarification. Meh news: more scales please! CheersThanksaLot.

Most empathy research in the forensic context has assumed that empathy has two components. In this two-component model, the cognitive component involves perspective taking, and the affective component involves experiencing appropriate emotion. (…) this assumption has both dominated and limited empathy research with offenders, nearly all of which has been conducted with sexual offenders. We propose instead that five components are involved in the experience of empathy: perspective taking, the ability to experience emotion, a belief that others are worthy of compassion and respect, situational factors, and an ability to manage personal distress. We suggest that the non-situational factors that blocked empathy for the victim at the time of a sexual offense are probably other dispositions known to be related to sexual offending, such as sexual preoccupation, generalized hostility to others, implicit theories about children and sex, and/or poor coping with negative emotions.  [via. IMG]

 Why are we fascinated by death, horror and violence? 
Psychologist, best selling author and Professor of Counseling Psychology at California State University, Jeffrey A. Kottler examines our ’lust for blood’ in his new book  ”LUST FOR BLOOD: WHY WE ARE FASCINATED BY DEATH, MURDER, HORROR, AND VIOLENCE”where instead of interviewing serial killers and violent offenders, he

"…focuses on normal, average people who, despite themselves, enjoy getting close to the most forbidden, perverse side of destruction and evil. The persons interviewed range from homicide detectives and emergency room personnel to a heavyweight boxer and groupies of serial killers on death row.” via

Why are we fascinated by death, horror and violence?

Psychologist, best selling author and Professor of Counseling Psychology at California State University, Jeffrey A. Kottler examines our ’lust for blood’ in his new book  ”LUST FOR BLOOD: WHY WE ARE FASCINATED BY DEATH, MURDER, HORROR, AND VIOLENCE”where instead of interviewing serial killers and violent offenders, he

"…focuses on normal, average people who, despite themselves, enjoy getting close to the most forbidden, perverse side of destruction and evil. The persons interviewed range from homicide detectives and emergency room personnel to a heavyweight boxer and groupies of serial killers on death row.” via

Regarding Juvenile Comprehension of Miranda

 Does anyone love the SCOTUS audios more than me? Yeah, I doubt it too. There’s actually a lot of laughs in here. No, I don’t get out much, why do you ask?

"The issue before the Court is simple: must the age of a minor be taken into account in deciding whether the youth, about to be questioned by police about a crime, is “in custody” and so is entitled to be told about his legal rights before any questions may be asked? "

It’s really not simple since the attributes to consider in this question include age, willingness to please authority, comprehension, voluntariness, freedom of movement, what constitutes a confined/custodial situation for children and are they allowed the same rights to waive Miranda as adults when being questioned. What would happen if Miranda was extended to juveniles? My initial thought is an extreme increase in Huntley Hearings by public defenders looking to get info/confessions tossed out based on one or more of the above mentioned criteria not being met. Many adults struggle to understand Miranda, or what custody means, how can we expect kids to understand, cognitively underdeveloped as they are and in addition, more emotionally sensitive to such a situation that interrogation imposes on memory, movement and coercion.

The Justices wanted to pin this down as using “objective circumstances” to determine if the child in question will understand and need to be Mirandized and if so, how. Some state’s court jurisdiction uses the age test (13, 14, 15 years old) or reasonable man test- which is up to the well trained (we hope) arresting cop/det. or interrogator to decide how to proceed based on how old the child appears and what would the normal 8 or 11 yr old understand.  Most the time, this is not an issue in court since these guys are trained to work with kids and take the precautions called for. However, it happens enough and if Miranda is extended aforementioned characteristics must be considered, which could speak toward coercion (lack of or opportunity to call a parent, police dominated interrogation, length of time, general holding conditions) leading to a possible back log in Huntley hearings and more time in detention for kids who would benefit more from rehabilitation, counselling, educational/skill based programs, or that are just needlessly being held, i.e.:

The justices then urged “…what would happen to the Miranda regime if the Court were now to clutter it up with requiring police to imagine how a suspect’s” unique characteristics” would shape his reaction to being confined for questioning.”

Characterics like, understanding English, cognitive disabilities, mental illness and age related susceptibility as in Alvarado It is clear and refreshing that the Justices were aware of these red flags and that counsel was encouraging of letting experts decide details, not the law. P.S. the same scenario applies to adults with mental illness or mental retardation.

There is literally decades worth of great research that sheds light on just how far this grey area of psychological coercion pertaining to juveniles in custodial situations in re: to Miranda expands. Social science to the rescue? Not entirely of course, but they can provide alternative methods, tests, and empirical evidence to what works and what doesn’t. For example, in NY and (perhaps not used enough) we have typed out Miranda in English and Spanish that the child/parent have to sign before taking the juvenile into custody, and even that is debatable. This would assume the parent or interested guardian is available and also understands what they are signing  and that they may be an acting as an agent of the police. Wouldn’t the easiest temp solution- if there is concern, be (assuming time is not of the essence) no questioning at all until at least legal rep. shows up, even if the parent is there? This essentially protects the child’s rights as well as the integrity of the police leading to what info the police can legally use in trial or for the investigation. Win/win?  We’ll hear what the Justices have to say about it later in the year. 

Fighting Crime by Reading Minds

"How far out is P300 as a viable law enforcement tool? Maybe not too far, judging by the company the researchers behind the new study have been keeping. Rosenfeld says the work was funded by the Defense Academy for Credibility Assessment — part of the Department of Defense — which trains federal polygraph operators. (…)  Rosenfeld counters that in some cases, the civil liberties of suspects will in fact benefit, since a painless but comparatively reliable way of getting at the truth makes it harder to justify harsh interrogation techniques."


 

Raising a Psychopath

driftingonandon:

Raising a Psychopath

Basically this is the blog written by a man who, with his wife, decided to adopt an older child. What they get is Lucas, a six year-old who has had a rough start to life. He exhibits many strange behaviors, and his parents suspect that he is not entirely normal. According to his father (who writes the blog), Lucas is diagnosed with Reactive Attachment Disorder. This means that Lucas has not formed normal attachments to his caregivers, and as a result has disturbed models of how to relate to other people. Lucas is a child sexual offender (he broke into a neighbors house and took photos of his aroused penis on their digital camera, and left them on the camera). Lucas is immune to punishment, and displays complete apathy towards the feelings of others in addition to showing no remorse. Lucas’ father is convinced that the word “psychopath” describes his son much more acutely than his Reactive Attachment Disorder diagnosis, hence the title of the blog. (entire post)

It’s pretty disturbing on more than one level, as are some of the comments from parents in the same situation. One of the more fascinating posts is about mimicking behavior and pretending to respond with the correct, expected emotion in any given interaction when you in fact are unable to have/understand the feeling or reasoning behind the action.  I’ve heard some patients say how they played sports, got married, had kids and say ‘I love you’ every night because they know that’s what they are “supposed” to do….not what they feel, or understand quite why they did any of it. It was just the way people want them to behave, so to get along, they did it.  For me it was like reading the prequel to some of the cases I see now where things have taken a real violent turn and the red flags are only visible in hindsight. If your interested in reactive attachment disorder, or how messed up the juvenile justice healthcare system - it’s worth a look-thru. 

Born Killers? Neuroscientitst, James Fallon’s brain “(on the right) has dark patches in the orbital cortex, the area just behind the eyes. This is the area that Fallon and other scientists say is involved with ethical behavior, moral decision-making and impulse control. The normal scan on the left is his son’s.”  ….By these measures, and compared to brain scans of other killers, he has the brain of a psychopath.
Its a new area of study, but “The evidence is accumulating that some people’s brains predispose them toward violence and that psychopathic tendencies may be passed down from one generation to another”  ….as they predispose them to other behaviors.
"But what about people who rape and murder — should we feel empathy for them? Should they be allowed to argue in court that their brains made them do it? Enter the new world of "neurolaw" in which neuroscience is used as evidence in the courtroom."  
Probably at this time, mitigating evidence, since legal definitions and psychological definitions of responsibility, accountability vs culpability can be quite different, and in court - hardly anything is a slam dunk.

Born Killers? Neuroscientitst, James Fallon’s brain “(on the right) has dark patches in the orbital cortex, the area just behind the eyes. This is the area that Fallon and other scientists say is involved with ethical behavior, moral decision-making and impulse control. The normal scan on the left is his son’s.”  ….By these measures, and compared to brain scans of other killers, he has the brain of a psychopath.

Its a new area of study, but “The evidence is accumulating that some people’s brains predispose them toward violence and that psychopathic tendencies may be passed down from one generation to another”  ….as they predispose them to other behaviors.

"But what about people who rape and murder — should we feel empathy for them? Should they be allowed to argue in court that their brains made them do it? Enter the new world of "neurolaw" in which neuroscience is used as evidence in the courtroom."  

Probably at this time, mitigating evidence, since legal definitions and psychological definitions of responsibility, accountability vs culpability can be quite different, and in court - hardly anything is a slam dunk.

john:

Another infographic, the fascinating How Our Laws Are Made 
via Cool Hunting

They don’t show you this when urging you to do research that will change law, for good reason.

john:

Another infographic, the fascinating How Our Laws Are Made 

via Cool Hunting

They don’t show you this when urging you to do research that will change law, for good reason.

Targets for Sexual and Physical Assault

"Juveniles placed in adult prisons are at heightened risk of physical and
sexual assault by older, more mature prisoners. Many adolescents suffer
horrific abuse for years when sentenced to die in prison. Children are five times
more likely to be sexually assaulted in adult prisons than in juvenile facilities.”

So this is not news to anyone, and its no secret what happens in there….but what is surprising (to me at least) in a kinda related vein is re: an experimental study I did using 300 mock jurors about juveniles being tried as adults for murder. I used 3 different versions of an actual juvenile murder case and made 3 versions where the offender would be 13, 15, or 17. The participants were given a different age in the scenario and asked to read the case and decide if the juvenile should be tried as an adult where he would get life in prison, or go to a juvenile detention until he was 18, then be re-evaluated.  The results showed the jurors were more likely to send the 13 and 17 year old to adult prison for life, but not the 15 year old.  (Certain juror’s rationale was the 15 has a chance to reform, but the 13 year old is probably damaged goods already if he is murdering at that age.)  When measuring the confidence level of these mock verdicts, the older the offender the more confident they were in their verdict, which means they would send an 13 year old to adult prison, but not 100% sure if it was the right decision. Also, males were more likely than female jurors to send all of the juveniles to adult prison for life.

A new phrase has entered the criminological lexicon: the “CSI effect” after shows such as “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation”. In 2008 Monica Robbers, an American criminologist, defined it as “the phenomenon in which jurors hold unrealistic expectations of forensic evidence and investigation techniques, and have an increased interest in the discipline of forensic science.”

Exposure to television drama series that focus on forensic science has altered the American legal system in complex and far-reaching ways.

Jurors think they have a thorough understanding of science they have seen presented on television, when they do not. Mr Durnal cites one case of jurors in a murder trial who, having noticed that a bloody coat introduced as evidence had not been tested for DNA, brought this fact to the judge’s attention. Since the defendant had admitted being present at the murder scene, such tests would have thrown no light on the identity of the true culprit. The judge observed that, thanks to television, jurors knew what DNA tests could do, but not when it was appropriate to use them.

Prosecutors in the United States are now spending much more time explaining to juries why certain kinds of evidence are not relevant. Prosecutors have even introduced a new kind of witness—a “negative evidence” witness—to explain that investigators often fail to find evidence at a crime scene.

kidaokagee:


James Patrick Bulger (16 March 1990 - 12 February 1993), a two-year-old child from Kirkby, Merseyside, England, was abducted, tortured and murdered. The perpetrators were two 10-year-old boys, Robert Thompson (born 23 August 1982) and Jon Venables, (born 13 August 1982). Bulger disappeared on 12 February 1993 from the New Strand Shopping Centre, Bootle, while accompanying his mother, and his mutilated body was found on a railway line in nearby Walton on 14 February. Thompson and Venables were charged on 20 February 1993 with the abduction and murder.
Thompson and Venables were found guilty of the murder of Bulger on 24 November 1993, making them the youngest convicted murderers in modern English history. They were sentenced to custody until they reached adulthood, initially until the age of 18, and were released on lifelong licence in June 2001. The case has prompted widespread debate on the issue of how to handle young offenders when they are sentenced or released from custody.
source


…and we still don’t know how to handle young offenders when they are sentenced or released from custody.  Maybe there shouldn’t be an over arching answer when dealing with youths, unless it’s case by case one with as many options as possible.

kidaokagee:

James Patrick Bulger (16 March 1990 - 12 February 1993), a two-year-old child from Kirkby, Merseyside, England, was abducted, tortured and murdered. The perpetrators were two 10-year-old boys, Robert Thompson (born 23 August 1982) and Jon Venables, (born 13 August 1982). Bulger disappeared on 12 February 1993 from the New Strand Shopping Centre, Bootle, while accompanying his mother, and his mutilated body was found on a railway line in nearby Walton on 14 February. Thompson and Venables were charged on 20 February 1993 with the abduction and murder.

Thompson and Venables were found guilty of the murder of Bulger on 24 November 1993, making them the youngest convicted murderers in modern English history. They were sentenced to custody until they reached adulthood, initially until the age of 18, and were released on lifelong licence in June 2001. The case has prompted widespread debate on the issue of how to handle young offenders when they are sentenced or released from custody.

source

…and we still don’t know how to handle young offenders when they are sentenced or released from custody.  Maybe there shouldn’t be an over arching answer when dealing with youths, unless it’s case by case one with as many options as possible.

"Delusional campaign for a world without risk
Convicted sex offender Anthony Sowell seemed run-of-the-mill. He scored a low “1” on the Static-99, the popular actuarial tool designed to quantify risk for sexual recidivism. Now, he is suspected in the murders of 11 women whose remains were found at his Cleveland, Ohio home. (His publicly leaked risk evaluation is HERE.)John Albert Gardner III, who like Oscar-winning film director Roman  Polanski was convicted of molesting a 13-year-old girl, looked almost as routine. Paroling after a 5-year prison stint, he scored a “2” on the Static. Now, he stands charged with the highly publicized San Diego rape-murder of teenager Chelsea King.While the United States crashes and burns — jobs disappearing, home values plummeting, public school teachers begging for basic supplies like paper and pencils — politicians are hosting emergency hearings to determine “what went wrong.”Who you gonna blame? The Static-99The same California politicians who enthusiastically enacted a law — the ambitiously titled Sex  Offender Control and Containment Act of 2006 — mandating the use of this scientifically flawed actuarial tool are now jumping all over prison bureaucrats for mandating its use to determine which paroling sex offenders should be most carefully monitored. Maybe they should have listened to those who have been saying all along that actuarial tools are not a panacea”. More.

"Delusional campaign for a world without risk

Convicted sex offender Anthony Sowell seemed run-of-the-mill. He scored a low “1” on the Static-99, the popular actuarial tool designed to quantify risk for sexual recidivism. Now, he is suspected in the murders of 11 women whose remains were found at his Cleveland, Ohio home. (His publicly leaked risk evaluation is HERE.)

John Albert Gardner III, who like Oscar-winning film director Roman Polanski was convicted of molesting a 13-year-old girl, looked almost as routine. Paroling after a 5-year prison stint, he scored a “2” on the Static. Now, he stands charged with the highly publicized San Diego rape-murder of teenager Chelsea King.

While the United States crashes and burns — jobs disappearing, home values plummeting, public school teachers begging for basic supplies like paper and pencils — politicians are hosting emergency hearings to determine “what went wrong.”

Who you gonna blame? The Static-99

The same California politicians who enthusiastically enacted a law — the ambitiously titled Sex Offender Control and Containment Act of 2006 — mandating the use of this scientifically flawed actuarial tool are now jumping all over prison bureaucrats for mandating its use to determine which paroling sex offenders should be most carefully monitored. Maybe they should have listened to those who have been saying all along that actuarial tools are not a panacea”. More.

The United States has 5 percent of the world’s population and 25 percent of the world’s prisoners. Some criminologists have found that when too many people are incarcerated the crime rate actually increases. Imagine if we spent some of the $70 billion a year prisons cost on education, job training, and health care.