Role and Purpose of the Report
Every offender that is in a correctional system or facility must undergo an assessment process after a specified period. The evaluation process frequently focuses on obtaining accurate information in regards to the offenders management and progress while he or she is serving his or her sentence, and the intervention needs that the offender may require assisting in his or her reform process (de Ruiter & Kaser-Boyd, 2015). The assessment process is also able to identify and therefore address the risk factors that the offender possesses and therefore, prevent the likelihood of the prisoner re-offending.
The role and purpose of the evaluation are to provide the Board of Parole members with a professional opinion of Mr. Smiths suitability for parole, and the risk level that he presents to the community. Mr. Smith is currently serving a sentence of six years for First Degree Robbery and Second Degree Assault. It is his second offense as he has previously served a two-year sentence in the Department of Corrections for Armed Robbery. Therefore, looking at his past criminal record, and being a repeat offender, it is important to carry out the evaluation, to determine his risk level to the community regarding repeated criminal behavior and future engagement in violent conduct.
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The report provides a professional opinion in regards to Mr. Smiths behavior, mental health condition and the progress that he has made in the facility. It is important to note that, based on the report that was provided, the Parole Board learns that Mr. Smith has reformed regarding his behavior. He has had a violent past that is usually instigated by his alcohol dependency and use. However, there have been no reports that he has behavioral problems, and therefore, it shows that he has progressed regarding reducing his violence, and therefore he is considered low-risk regarding violence to the community. He has also been programming well within the institution. He has been involved in group therapy, vocational programming, Alcohol Anonymous Programming, he is working for pay, and is enrolled in education classes. All these are indications that he is reforming and trying to improve his life.
The evaluation was necessary because; it was assessing whether Mr. Smith had reformed enough to be able to be integrated back into the community without the fear that he posed a threat to the society. The Board of Parole has to be presented with adequate information in regards to the inmate regarding his mental health status, behavior, substance abuse, and even his plans upon being granted the parole (de Ruiter & Kaser-Boyd, 2015). For instance, if he had displayed mental health problems, and given his criminal record, he would have been seen as a danger to the community, and therefore the Board of Parole members would not have granted him parole based on this evaluation. Also, it is important to assess his behavior while serving in the corrections facility. It establishes the way he relates to other people, the activities that he has participated in, and the activities that he has been involved in while serving his time.
It has been established that Mr. Smith has not received any behavioral violations, and was even moved from the behavioral unit (BHU) to the general population unit (GPU). He has even joined group therapy and is interested in individual therapy to deal with various behavioral problems that he has experienced in the past. Based on the assessment, it has been established that he has made progress in his behavioral reforms and was even moved from the behavioral unit to a general population unit. It showed that the prison staff noted an improvement in his behavior, and therefore felt that he was not a threat to the other prisoners in the correctional department (Jackson & Roesch, 2015). Also, it is important to note that he has acknowledged that he has behavioral problems and joined group therapy to deal with his problems. These vital steps that have been taken by the inmate have shown that he has made considerable strides in improving his behavior, and therefore they have been addressed in the report.
Missing Sections and what Would Have Been Added
The missing sections that would have been helpful during the assessment were progress reports or information in regards to his behavioral reforms (de Ruiter & Kaser-Boyd, 2015). It would have been beneficial both for the undersigned and the Parole Board to know the various changes that had been noted for Mr. Smith in terms of his behavior. For instance, a brief report by the prison staff should have been sufficient in order to explain why he was moved from the Behavioral Unit to the General Unit. Also, as he was participating in group therapy, important information such as his attendance and participation would have shown his commitment level. The undersigned as a professional would have determined whether he was attending group therapy for show (in order to secure a parole pardon) or he had considered to change his behavior.
How Aspects of Diversity were addressed in the Report
The report addressed the various aspects of cultural sensitivity and diversity. There were no equality issues that were based on race, gender, religion or belief or even age during the assessment. The report does not contain any form of bias on the part of the interviewer towards the offender (Jackson & Roesch, 2015). The report takes great consideration in regards to the elements of diversity. The undersigned noted that English was not the first language for Mr. Smith (it is his second language). However, it was deemed appropriate for use and that he did not need an interpreter because of the information that was on his records, conversations with staff, and the discussion that the two parties had held before the start of the interview (de Ruiter & Kaser-Boyd, 2015). The undersigned discussed with the offender to assess if he understood English and whether he needed an interpreter. Upon determining from the offender that he did not need an interpreter, he proceeded with the interview. It would have been unfair if the offender did not understand English well, was denied an interpreter, and the interview was conducted in English. Therefore, in this case, the communication was carried out in an accurate and effective manner in the assessment process.
The offender was educated on the purpose of the evaluation. It was made clear to him that the interview was not confidential, and the information provided was going to be used in the report. He was also informed that the process was voluntary, and he could choose whether to participate in it or not; however, it was made clear that even if he did not participate, that the report was going to be prepared (Jackson & Roesch, 2015). It ensured that he knew the purpose of the report and that he was not compelled to participate because he felt that he had been forced to participate in the process. Also, by informing the offender of the purpose and usability of the report, it led to the establishment of a trust relationship between the offender and the undersigned. The interviewer ensured that the process was cooperative because he had mentioned that it was a voluntary process.
Culture Sensitivity and its Role in Forensic Assessments
Therefore, even when questions that are considered to be private were asked, the offender did not take offense to these questions. For instance, if Mr. Smith did not trust the undersigned, and was asked the question about his daughter or girlfriend, he may have reacted in an angry manner, and the interviewer may have assumed that he has anger management issues, which is not the case (Drogin, Dattilio, Sadoff, & Gutheil, 2011). Also, by using the DSM-IV-TR instrument, a standardized instrument for evaluation of substance abuse and mental disorders shows that the report took into consideration cultural sensitivity. The DSM-IV tool provides the psychiatrist with the relevant tools to; identify the patients relationships regarding cultural identity, current illness experience, psychosocial supports and even daily functioning.
The report could have been more culturally sensitive had it included more information in regards to his cultural identification. It would have presented a clear picture in regards to both his previous and current behaviors (Jackson & Roesch, 2015). The report should have also included information in regards to why the offender was asked about suicidal and homicidal thoughts. It is assumed that foreigners have a high likelihood of committing suicide while they are in prison because they face challenges with the acculturation process. This notion has over the years led to debates that focus on whether to establish separate forensic services for ethnic minorities to avoid the issue of cultural biases.
Psychological Assessments that Could Have Been used
In the report, it has pointed out that Mr. Smith presented aspects of depressive features and that various symptoms were evident, even though they did not meet the full diagnostic considerations. The interviewer could have used the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9) to screen, diagnose, monitor and even measure the severity of depression of the offender. The PHQ-9 is considered to be an effective tool because it normally incorporates the DSM-IV depression diagnostic criteria and other major depressive symptoms into the self-report tool (Jackson & Roesch, 2015). The self-report tool will then rate the frequency of these symptoms in regards to the scoring severity index. It is important to note that the instrument has nine questions that are usually meant to monitor or assess the depressive mood of a person over a period of two weeks. The last question (question 9) also screens for both the presence and duration of suicide thoughts for the offender. There is also a tenth question, which, even though it is not scored for this instrument, it places a great degree of emphasis in regards to the depressive problems of the affected patient.
The PHQ-9 tool should have been used because it can be completed within a short period by the patient before the clinician scores the result (Drogin, Dattilio, Sadoff, & Gutheil, 2011). For instance, a score of between 5 and 9 represents minimal symptoms, and therefore, the patient cannot be described to be suffering from depression. A score of 10-14 shows minor depression, and in this case, the patient will be carefully monitored to assess whether his depression state is improving or becoming worse. A score that is greater than 15 is an indication of Major depression symptoms and the treatment recommendation at this stage is that the patient should be provided with antidepressant medications, and also psychotherapy.
The patient stated that his criminal and violence behavior are related to alcohol abuse. He stated that on the two occasions that have been arrested in connection with criminal activities, he was intoxicated. Although he has stated that he has stopped taking alcohol and even joined the AA program, he admits that he cannot fully determine that he has stopped taking alcohol because of the restrictions or obstacles that are presented by the correctional facilities. Therefore, to assess the likelihood score that Mr. Smith will be involved in alcohol abuse, once he is released from prison (Drogin, Dattilio, Sadoff, & Gutheil, 2011).
The Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) is comprised of ten questions, and it seeks to monitor alcohol consumption, drinking behaviors, and other alcohol-related problems. The screening tool has 92% sensitivity and 94% specificity. If the patient provides a score of 8 or more, then it is considered that he has a high likelihood of engaging in harmful alcohol abuse (Jackson & Roesch, 2015). If that is the case, it also increases his likelihood of being involved in criminal activities. The reason for this is that he stated in the report that during the two occasions that he was caught, participating in criminal activities, he had been drinking.
Development of a Treatment Plan
The recommendations that were provided in the report are very insightful regarding developing an adequate treatment plan for the offender. For Mr. Smith, it will be important to develop a re-entry program that will provide him with a great chance to be integrated back into the society successfully, and reduce his chances of being involved in criminal offenses that can lead to his future arrest. The offender should be introduced to anger management and communication classes (Groth-Marnat & Davis, 2013). It was noted that he had anti-social behaviors that affected the way he communicated with people. To ensure that he will be able to be integrated back into the society successfully, he has to develop adequate communication skills. They will help him to communicate properly with his girlfriend, daughter, employer and even the mother of her daughter. Establishing good relationships with these people will play an important role in creating stability in his life, and therefore, reducing the likelihood of him being involved in criminal activities. Anger management classes will help him deal with the anger issues that he has, and that he normally exercises when he is drunk. It will provide him with an adequate channel to release his anger. These classes, he should continue for six to twelve months after his release depending on his progress.
Mr. Smith is also supposed to join an AA program in his area of residence upon his release and attend it regularly. To ensure that this takes place, the director or facilitator of the program should sign him in and out at the start and at the end of the meeting in a signed sheet that he will be provided with when he is released. His parole officer will regularly check this document on a regular basis. He has stated that he has a job and place to live upon his release. It is important to inquire from the mentioned parties to ascertain the information that he has provided is true (Jackson & Roesch, 2015). If the information is true and accurate, then it is imperative that he is let to work and live in his areas of choosing because if he is comfortable and stable, he is less likely to be involved in criminal activities. The mission of the treatment plan is to ensure that he is reformed; all that he will have to do is to report on a regular basis to his parole officer.
The treatment plan can be used for mental health patients who had been placed in mental institutions for various disorders. The report can be used to assess whether they are ready to be integrated back into the community. Also, it can be used by psychologists as a guideline when assessing drug addicts who have taken to rehabilitation centers. It will be used to assess the likelihood of these patients relapsing to drug abuse. The assessment methods will act as determinants when making the appropriate decisions, and also the intervention measures that can prove effective for these patients (Groth-Marnat & Davis, 2013).
Critiquing the Report
The report was comprehensively informative for the Board of Parole to use it to make the decision of whether the parole to Mr. Smith was going to be granted or not. The psychological tests were conducted on various parameters such as substance abuse, mental health status, and violence risk assessment. It was determined that regarding violence, that he was a low-risk based on the assessment, and therefore could be integrated back into the community. The psychological and legal questions that could have been raised in regards to Mr. Smith have been answered. For instance, during his self-assessment, he categorically states that he is less likely to engage in his past criminal activities (he is quoted as saying; I wont be a criminal anymore.) Also, his behavior has changed, and it has been indicated by being moved from the behavioral unit to the general population unit.
The report portrays Mr. Smith as a reforming man, and a man determined to change his previous ways. He has joined psychotherapy programs and wants to join individual therapy. He realized that he has substance abuse problem, and joined the AA program, a program that he hopes to continue upon his release. Also, from the report, it can be deduced that the reason why he is inclined to change is that he wants to be a father to his child, and be present for her. He is ashamed of letting her see him in prison. The recommendations also present the convict and the Parole Board with a plan that will ensure that Mr. Smith is successfully integrated into the community with a less likelihood of him being involved in future criminal activities.
de Ruiter, C., & Kaser-Boyd, N. (2015). Forensic psychological assessment in practice: Case studies.
Drogin, E. Y., Dattilio, F. M., Sadoff, R. L., & Gutheil, T. G. (2011). Handbook of forensic assessment: Psychological and psychiatric perspectives.
Groth-Marnat, G., & Davis, A. (2013). Psychological report writing assistant.
Jackson, R., & Roesch, R. (2015). Learning forensic assessment: Research and practice.