CORRECTIONAL & FORENSIC PSYCHOLOGY RESOURCES
For U of M Students
Correctional psychology is the application of psychological principles and research to the correctional system. Correctional psychologists use basic clinical skills to provide appropriate services to inmates, as well as individuals under community supervision (i.e., probation and parole). Psychologists working in correctional settings are part of a multidisciplinary team that typically includes psychiatrists, physicians, security personnel, educators, social workers, and prison administrators. Correctional psychologists conduct psycho-diagnostic and treatment needs assessments, suicide and violence risk assessments, crisis interventions, and psychotherapy. Psychologists may also help make decisions regarding an inmate's housing placement or release to a less restrictive environment. Specialized training and experience treating personality disorders, substance use disorders, and client resistance is likely beneficial. Researchers who study correctional psychology are interested in topics such as the effectiveness of mental health interventions, factors related to staff burnout, inmate-staff dynamics, gang relations, and public bias toward ex-offenders.
Forensic psychology is the application of psychological principles and research to the legal system. In other words, it is the intersection between psychology and the law. Forensic psychologists are most often involved in pre-trial legal issues, such as assisting the court to make determinations regarding a defendant's adjudicative competence (e.g., to stand trial, accept a plea offer), mental state at the time of the offense (i.e., insanity), or providing consultation to counsel (e.g., during jury selection). Forensic psychologists may also help the court answer civil matters, such as parental fitness and personal injury. Forensic psychological researchers are interested in a wide range of topics including eye-witness credibility, bias among forensic mental health experts, and methods of police interrogations. These are just a few examples of the tasks that forensic psychologists might perform. Rarely, however, do forensic psychologists "get inside the mind" of serial killers or engage in criminal profiling.