(Answered) Forensic Psychology and Ethical Implications

(Answered) Forensic Psychology and Ethical Implications

(Answered) Forensic Psychology and Ethical Implications 150 150 Prisc

Forensic Psychology and Ethical Implications

For this paper, you will examine the ethical implications of a controversial topic related to forensic psychology.
Choose from the following topics:

Psychologists’ involvement in military interrogations
Psychologists’ involvement in assessments related to death penalty cases
In 1,000-1,250 words, consider the following:

Discuss human rights as it relates to the controversy.
Explain ethical implications that may arise for both sides of the controversy.
A minimum of three peer-reviewed sources and the textbook should be used to support this paper.

Prepare this assignment according to the guidelines found in the APA Style Guide


Fisher, C. (2017). Decoding the ethics code: A practical guide for psychologists. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. ISBN-13: 9781483369297

Sample Answer

Human Rights Perspective

Forensic Psychologists’ involvement in assessments related to death penalty cases is an issue that has continued to draw a powerful argument of whether such involvements defend or justify human rights violations. According to Fisher (2016), even as many Americans continue to disagree on whether the death penalty violates human rights, the inequitable and unwarranted killing of innocent people by their government may be viewed as a violation of fundamental human rights, including the right to liberty and life. Therefore, arguments have been brought forward that psychologists’ involvement in capital cases is similar to their participation in military interrogations. Psychologists involved in capital cases neutrally perform their professional psychological assessments and are not in any way involved in determining the end decisions that are made towards an individual by the judge or jury is a sentence (Fisher, 2016). However, there have been many documented flaws in the legal procedures related to death penalties, with many people being convicted of capital offenses while they were innocent and some guilty individuals being acquitted.  Through the psychological assessment of the suspects involved in capital cases, psychologists can therefore not be said to be neutral with juries and judges normally referring to psychological assessments to determine whether a given case might proceed and to make other legal decisions such as predicting the probability of future crimes. Therefore, the psychologist assessment in capital cases might place a suspect at the mercy of an unjust and imperfect criminal justice system. Through their involvement in capital cases, psychologists might therefore be directly involved in violation of human rights (Sethuraju et al., 2016).

The proponents of the involvement of psychologists in capital cases might argue that despite the inadequacies of the different diagnostic techniques that psychologists might use when dealing with defendants in capital cases, the participation of psychologists will enhance the accuracy of the legal decisions that may be based on mental health. Prohibiting psychological services in capital proceedings would only lead to unprofessional assessments conducted by other professionals who do not have the appropriate psychological training (Fisher, 2017). However, psychologists should consider that their involvement in capital cases will ultimately result in the death of defendants and the loss of the usual human rights protections for suspects’ continued appeal and evaluations. This is because the legal system provides defendants with different protections that can help to rectify flawed jury decisions through the use of services such as the right to appeal, ongoing psychological evaluations, and psychological treatment, and the possibility of bringing new evidence into consideration following conviction. The involvement of a psychologist in the initial assessments of defendants before a capital case can therefore help to prevent the appeal and continued evaluation of defendants if they are sentenced to death (Neal, 2016). Psychologists should consequently not be involved in assessments related to death penalty cases so as to protect the right of defendants to life and to increase the chances of such defendants having an opinion or continued evaluations, including psychological assessments that can play a significant role towards a just resolution of their cases. The involvement of psychologists in an assessment that may be related to capital cases can therefore be viewed as going against the fundamental human rights of liberty and life. Forensic psychologists’ involvement in capital cases violates human rights, especially considering that the justice system can be unjust and imperfect in some instances, which can make forensic psychologists facilitators of the death of innocent people who have not been taken through the due process (Fisher, 2017).

Ethical Implications

Forensic psychologists’ involvement or non-involvement in assessments related to death penalty cases can result in different ethical implications. Therefore, the participation of forensic psychologists in capital cases leads to the undermining of the ethical principles of beneficence and non-maleficence. In the following beneficence, forensic psychologists are consequently required to always perform acts that benefit their clients and colleagues (Appelbaum, 2018). Through the principle of non-maleficence forensic psychologists are also required to never be directly involved in acts or practices that may actively harm their clients, colleagues, or animals (Appelbaum, 2018). By being involved in capital cases, forensic psychologists can therefore be seen as going against the ethical principles of beneficence and non-maleficence. This is because the psychological assessments that the psychologist will conduct in capital cases can be used by the judges or jury to sentence a defendant to death.  In such a scenario, the actions of a forensic psychologist can therefore be connected to the direct death of a human being which goes against the principles of beneficence and non-maleficence (Appelbaum, 2018).