Welcome to Mental Health Law! This course covers many aspects of psychology and the law, including the landmark cases in such topics as the right to treatment, involuntary commitment, the standards for finding criminal responsibility (insanity). competency to stand trial, death penalty mitigation, and much more.
Sometimes the roles of psychologists, sometimes as scientists, clinical practitioners, expert witnesses, or public policy advocates, are very controversial in the public arena. The legal system is one arena where psychologists sometimes play a very public, highly visible role. Perhaps you can recall wondering what the psychological testimony might reveal in famous or horrifing cases, such as Andrea Yates, or Jeffrey Dahmer. At times the public outcry is so significant after a high-profile court case that changes are made in the laws, as happened after John Hinckley’s trial for the shooting of President Ronald Reagan.
We will study the origins of law and conflicts between psychological and legal approaches to some of the same problems or events.
Choose one of the following dilemmas and outline the argument for each of the opposing positions. Support your argument with reference(s) to articles from current peer-reviewed journals. References to laws and legal journals are also acceptable, if properly cited. You may cite the text, being certain to indicate when you have created a secondary citation.
· Kansas v. Hendricks
· Therapist testimony on behalf of clients – is the therapist an expert? Why or why not?
· Regulation of public smoking
· Mandatory sentencing versus judicial discretion.
Your post should convey both sides of the argument clearly and dispassionately. Try to write it in such a way that we, your readers, cannot guess which side you favor.
Greene, E., & Heilbrun, K. (2019). Wrightsman’spsychology and the legal system (9th ed.). Cengage.
· Chapter 1, “Psychology and the Law: Choices and Role”
· Chapter 2, “The Legal System: Issues, Structure, and Prayers”