Two ways in which Psychology contributes to the Criminal Justice System: A review of eyewitness testimony and sexual offender treatment programmes.
The Criminal Justice System (CJS) is a set of legal and social organisations for enforcing the criminal’s law according to a defined set of rules and legislations. The biggest influence on the CJS has been the finding of reasons of certain behaviours, these are founded by physiological theories which gave a major benefit by providing a better understanding for criminologists. Eyewitness testimony refers to individuals providing evidence in a crime or accident that has occurred which they have witnessed. The reliability of an eyewitness to provide evidence for a trial is a major factor towards the benefit of the courts concluding whether the defendant is guilty or not. Meta-analytic studies show a clear indication of cognitive behavioural and relapse prevention programmes are the most effective types of intervention for sexual offenders. According to the Ministry of Justice, Home Office and the Office for National Statistics, 2.5% of females and 0.4% of males had mentioned they had been a victim of sexual offence (including attempts) within the previous 12 months from January 2013. These sexual offences can range from the most violent types of sexual offences such as rape and sexual assault to other offences such as indecent exposure and unwanted grooming.
Some sexual offender treatments were included in cognitive behavioural programmes (Laws and Marshall 2003; Brown 2005) such as aversion therapy this is designed to reduce aberrant sexual arousal and, in some cases, as with orgasmic or masturbatory reconditioning, which was there to increase a more appropriate sexual arousal. Each type of treatment used for sexual offenders would always be assessed for which they could help in the situation they are in, the principles that are being assessed are towards benefiting the sexual offender to what the type of intervention that is needed for them to improve themselves. This would include following these certain steps risk, need and responsivity that has shown repeatedly associated with effective interventions (Andrews et al. 1990b; Lipsey 1989, 1995). Within the UK it has been said that sex offender treatment is located within a more therapeutic, public health and/or mental health setting.
Cognitive-behavioural programmes often require offenders to engage actively, learn skills and assimilate ideas/messages etc, that way they are more expected to live a more employable life that way they will be able to have a better understanding of how to live life in the non-offending community. Hormonal treatments are used within programmes to help sexual offenders, these are not usually used in isolation and issues such as the negative side effects and potential increased risk following termination mean that the use of this treatment is not likely to be widespread, although it could be particularly useful in some groups of offenders (Lösel and Schmucker, 2005).
Most programmes are set in place to help change the attitudes and thoughts towards the sexual behaviour and sexually aberrant behaviour, attitudes towards women and children and sexual entitlement, cognitive disorders (thoughts and attitudes encouraging sexual aberrant behaviour), offence cycles or offence chains; including thoughts behaviour leading to deviant behaviour, empathy, self-esteem and social skills.
In the 1980s, behavioural programmes continued to develop over time, this then included in relapse prevention had then become an important type of programme for sex offenders, some programmes were designed to be centered on these principles (e.g. Marques et al. 2005).
Although some treatment providers had attempted to develop relapse- prevention-type strategies, it was not until Pithers et al. (1983) extended the relapse-prevention model, originally developed in the area of addiction by Marlatt (1982; see also Marlatt and Gordon 1985) that relapse prevention became a key element, if not a central part, of most cognitive-behavioural programmes. The main aim of relapse prevention is to encourage and support the maintenance of treatment-induced abstinence; for example by encouraging offenders to think about how they will respond, and develop skills to respond to lapses/ relapses in behaviour (such as having a cigarette or alcoholic drink in the original additions model, or thinking about a sexual offence when adapted for sex offender treatment programmes).
What is the criminal justice system?
How does psychology contribute to the justice system?
List of the treatment programmes
Statistics and quotations
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