Monthly Archives: February 2014

Psychology has a great deal to offer the law, but what exactly does this mean in regards to young offenders – Is there room for improvement?

Cillian Murphy

Now, …what will it be?!

Despite the consequences of public sector cuts, the attack on welfare and growing unemployment, crime rates have been steadily declining, a trend that has been discerning for the last fifteen years (Hancock & Raeside, 2009). Although there is a highly correlated systematic relationship between the marginalisation and deprivation of communities and the increased risk of violence and imprisonment for youth offenders, a myriad other factors compound these multivariate issues – with a vast degree of overlap – including territoriality, previous convictions, previous custodial sentencing and impulsivity and irrational decision making (Hancock & Raeside, 2009). Thus, youth offenders seem to become attracted to the metaphorical pitcher plant, and thus, become accustomed to the nectarous fast track benefits of criminal activities in a vast consumerist market – where wages are paying way below rising inflation rates (Bannister, 2012). This can create a despondent, circuitous and synonymity between incarceration and criminogenic tendencies (Copas, Marshall & Tarling, 1996). Thus, there is evidence that a major element in the increase in prison population is due to the failure to rehabilitate youth offenders and to plan for a seamless interaction back into a structured societal and familial algorithmic patternisation (Barry, 2013). Subsequently, this article will take a critical approach – using psychological theory – to gauge the current benefits and shortcomings of sentencing approaches in Scotland for youth offenders (Kearney, Kirkwood & MacFarlane, 2006). Also, it will look at the heuristic, moral, ethical and experiential methods that sentencers’ implement to create a narrative of the offender when sentencing them (Millie et al. 2009). Lastly, a critical review of the current universal multi agency approach and whether therapeutic jurisprudence can aide the desistence programme will offer some insight into any improvements that are needed to the current sentencing approaches which will, in turn, prevent individuals’ from falling into a never-ending cycle of crime (Lambie & Randell, 2011). Continue reading

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Processing Bias for Aggression Words in Forensic and Nonforensic Samples – Does Internal Dialogue Influence Schematic Algorithmic Thinking Patterns

Samskara is the Sanskrit term for the word 'Schemata'.

Samskara is the Sanskrit term for the word ‘Schemata’.

Salient stimuli that are of concerning consternation toward individuals’ of clinical and nonclinical populations produce specific configurations of bias towards avoidance, vigilance and aggression. Individuals’ with an aggressive disposition may have a predilection towards aggressive and/or violent behavior as has been evidenced in various dot probe and emotional stroop tests. There have been discussions about ecological validity implementing words in dot probe tests and many researchers are now using photographic face stimuli (NIMRID). However, there has been evidence to suggest there is a strong bias towards lexical stimuli due to numerous cognitive traits including individual schema and scripts (Smith and Waterman, 2003). Due to uncertainty of the nature of the dot probe test and its efficacy in a forensic environment, the study will include both; the emotional stroop test and the dot probe test. The study looks at the differences priming aggressively displayed words has on population samples reaction times (RTs) from non-forensic (based on Buss-Perry Aggression Questionnaire) and forensic based (based on their index offence) environments. Continue reading

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