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Final Project Milestone Three-Ethics and Diversity Assignment

Final Project Milestone Three-Ethics and Diversity Assignment

Milestone Three: Ethics and Diversity

The case chosen for this paper is ” Capital Punishment Sentencing (Competency Evaluations)” which focuses on a Muslim man, Mr. Davis, with a condition known as paranoid schizophrenia. This condition results in delusions that consist of spies who want to harm Mr. Davis. Accordingly, the condition is manageable under medication but worsens without medication. Initially, Mr. Davis was arrested for trespassing and was released forty-five days later after being put on medication. Consequently, after his release, he stopped his medication and started living in the streets, where some youth feeding attacked him due to his paranoia. Mr. Davis found a seventeen-inch pipe and hid in the shadows out of fear with that in mind. The following day, he attacked two scouts, 12 and 14-year-old brothers, hitting them with the pipe. Additionally, the condition influenced the man to attack the boys, killing the twelve-year-old and landing him in handcuffs. Subsequently, the man was eventually convicted of capital murder once he was found fit to stand trial. Consequently, a forensic psychologist is tasked with assisting in the investigation (Gudjonsson and Haward, 2016).

Forensic psychology involves applying the scientific, technical, or specialized knowledge of psychology to the law to assist in addressing legal, contractual, and administrative matters” (Specialty guidelines for forensic psychology., 2013). Therefore, forensic psychologists profile criminals based on their psychological traits and behavior and are considered expert witnesses in court as they testify, providing information on the suspect (Schmalleger, 2017). In Mr. Davis’s case, the forensic psychologist is to determine the mitigating and aggravating circumstances surrounding the case. Accordingly, mitigating factors, also defined as crime causation factors, involve determining whether Mr. Davis at the time of the offense was either “under extreme emotional or mental distress. Also, “substantially unable to appreciate the wrongfulness of his act or conform his behavior to the requirements of the law” (Case Scenario). Aggravating factors, also called dangerousness, involve determining whether “the crime was committed in a wanton, atrocious, and cruel manner, and the offender has the probability of committing criminal acts in the future” (Case scenario). Accordingly, these circumstances influence the verdict of the court and the sentencing of the suspect. Therefore, forensic profiling is an essential aspect of investigations that influence court rulings; hence ethics must be maintained during investigations and trials.

Accordingly, the forensic profiler plays various roles (Marczyk et al., 2008). The first role is an expert witness during court proceedings. Subsequently, the forensic profiler is either appointed by the court or hired by an attorney and presents the information gathered as a witness only when the court appoints the individual or attorneys find the results support their case (Knapp and VandeCreek, 2001). The forensic profilers conduct psycho-social assessments, administer psychological testing, and finally, court report writing that documents the accurate and precise results of the profiling. Accordingly, Mr. Davis was already diagnosed with a psychological disorder, and therefore, the forensic profiler doesn’t determine that aspect in the profiling. Also, these tests influence the mitigation and aggravating circumstances surrounding the crime.

Additionally, theoretical frameworks are used in profiling (Schmalleger, 2017). The first theoretical framework is the social policy and psychological theories. These theories help the forensic profiler determine the aggravating factors referred to as the suspect’s dangerousness; hence, aggression is predicted through psychological testing. The second theoretical framework is the sociological theories used in studying mitigating circumstances or the causes of the crime. Sociological theories focus on social organization and cultures and their influence on crime. In Mr. Davis’s case, the previous attack by the youth resulted in his aggressive behavior towards the brothers, killing one of them. Social ecology theory is used in determining areas with the most crimes. Anomie theory is used to determine how standard an action is when compared to other actions of various societies. People with high levels of normlessness are expected to get involved in crimes (Schmalleger, 2017).

Accordingly, ethics play a significant role in forensic profiling. Ethical principles are of various categories: competence, integrity, professional and scientific responsibilities, respect for peoples’ rights and dignity, concern for others’ welfare, and social responsibility (Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct., 1992). Additionally, ethical standards are categorized into general ethical standards, competencies, public statements, therapy, privacy and confidentiality, research and publishing, forensic activities, and resolving ethical issues (Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct., 1992). An example of the ethics under competence states,” Psychologists provide services, teach, and conduct research only within the boundaries of their competence, based on their education, training, supervised experience, or appropriate professional experience” (Knapp and VandeCreek, 2001). Forensic psychologists play an important role in obtaining knowledge scientifically to present in trials; therefore, they must be competent in their work. Accordingly, the services they render in teaching, training, and research must be related to their area of expertise. Also, they ensure proper use of resources at their disposal and present professionalism and integrity in their work.

Accordingly, ethical issues might arise from situations or actions that go against the ethical code. These ethical issues might arise from potential risks such as personal bias; in Mr. Davis’ case, a forensic profiler might present bias due to religious or mental issues, resulting in unethical behavior. Accordingly, there are effects of unethical behavior, including informal resolution of ethical violations that involve “bringing it to the attention of that individual if an informal resolution appears appropriate and the intervention does not violate any confidentiality rights that may be involved.” Also, reporting the ethical violations is an option involving “Such action might include referral to state or national committees on professional ethics or to state licensing boards” (Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct., 1992). Accordingly, the forensic psychologist is expected to cooperate with the Ethics Committee they were reported to, and finally, an improper complaint might be filed.

Diversity is evident in the different suspects presented in court. Therefore, forensic psychologists must be aware not to show bias due to race, gender, or cultural background. From Mr. Davis’s case, he is diversified as a male Muslim immigrant, and therefore, a forensic psychologist must be aware of the diversity of the suspects. The diversity information adds unique characteristics of the suspect and allows the suspect to feel comfortable around the psychologist. In contrast, cultural incompetence causes fear and hostility in the suspect (Shepherd and Lewis-Fernandez, 2016). Risk assessment is conducted on diversity to create the most appropriate form of remedy to diversity challenges. The risk assessment results are valued as they possess the ability to solve challenges during psychological assessments.

In conclusion, forensic psychologists are essential to court proceedings due to their function as expert witnesses. Their expertise influences their function as expert witnesses in profiling the suspects, illustrating both mitigating and aggravating circumstances leading to the crime. They decided to use scientific methods and theoretical frameworks to set the basis for profiling. Additionally, ethical principles, standards, and ethical behavior are maintained while risk assessment is conducted. These circumstances help the court make the most appropriate verdict on sentencing. Subsequently, ethics are vital in forensic psychology since the court ruling is dependent on it. Accordingly, there are repercussions to the unethical behavior of psychologists while profiling.


American Psychologist, 1992. Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct. 47(12), pp.1597-1611.

American Psychologist, 2013. Specialty guidelines for forensic psychology. 68(1), pp.7-19.

Case Scenario: Capital Punishment Sentencing (Competency Evaluations)

Gudjonsson, G. and Haward, L., 2016. Forensic psychology: A guide to practice. Routledge.

Knapp, S. and VandeCreek, L., 2001. Ethical Issues in Personality Assessment in Forensic Psychology. Journal of Personality Assessment, 77(2), pp.242-254.

Marczyk, G., DeMatteo, D., Kutinsky, J., & Heilbrun, K. (2008). Training in forensic assessment and intervention: Implications for principles-based models. In R. Jackson (Ed.), Learning forensic assessment (pp. 3–31). Routledge/Taylor & Francis Group.

Schmalleger, F., 2017. Criminal Justice Today: An Introductory Text for the 21st Century. Pearson.

Shepherd, S. and Lewis-Fernandez, R., 2016. Forensic risk assessment and cultural diversity: Contemporary challenges and future directions. Psychology, Public Policy, and law, 22(4), pp.427-438.


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Final Project Milestone Three-Ethics and Diversity Assignment

Case Scenario: Capital Punishment Sentencing (Competency Evaluations)
Mr. Davis, a Muslim who immigrated to this country five years ago, has a long history of psychiatric hospitalizations related to his diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia. His delusions revolve around the belief that uniformed spies have been sent to execute him. He reports auditory and visual hallucinations when not on his medication. He was arrested for trespassing after he was found sleeping in the delivery shed of a warehouse.

During his stay in jail, he was put on antipsychotic medications and was released for time served after spending 45 days in jail. Upon his release, he returned to living on the streets and stopped taking his medications. While sleeping on a park bench, he was assaulted by several youths who hit and kicked him, leaving him on the ground but with no serious injuries. Mr. Davis was convinced that the juveniles who assaulted him were spies who would later return to assassinate him.
He found a 17-inch pipe and hid in the shadows the remainder of the evening, fearing for his life. In the early morning, he saw two uniformed youths approaching him, a 12-year-old boy and his 14-year-old brother, who were on their way to a Boy Scout meeting. Mr. Davis ran up behind the boys and started
swinging the pipe wildly, screaming that they would never take him alive. He struck the 12-year-old in the head, causing severe brain trauma. The 14-year-old was able to flee, but only after receiving a blow in the face. Mr. Davis returned to the 12-year-old and bludgeoned him to death.
He was still hitting the lifeless body when the police arrived. As soon as the police arrived, he dropped the pipe and sat in silence as he was subdued. He was found incompetent to stand trial and was committed to a state hospital. After eight months of pharmacological treatment, he was found competent, and tried and convicted of capital murder.
In most jurisdictions, mitigating circumstances are that the offender was, at the time of the offense, (1) under extreme emotional or mental distress, and (2) substantially unable to appreciate the wrongfulness of his act or conform his behavior to the requirements of the law.
Aggravating circumstances are that (1) the crime was committed in a wanton, atrocious, and cruel manner, and (2) the offender has the probability of committing criminal acts in the future.
In this case, you are working as an assistant to a forensic psychologist hired by the defense to assist during the sentencing phase. In this role, you will have to help prepare testimony that would support the position of the defense attorney regarding the defendant’s competence, emotional stability at the time of the crime, and his ability to fully understand the consequences associated with his sentence.
Framing Questions

  1. What role do the mitigating and aggravating circumstances play in capital sentencing?
  2. Competency evaluations: If you were asked to disagree with the findings in the competency evaluation previously administered, what evidence could you use to counter the recommendations included in the psychological evaluation?
  3. What approach would you take in assessing and working with a Muslim who may have encountered racism in this country due to his religion and ethnicity?

PSY 545 Milestone Three Guidelines and Rubric

Final Project Milestone Three-Ethics and Diversity Assignment

Final Project Milestone Three-Ethics and Diversity Assignment

PSY 545 – Final Project Guidelines and Rubric

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