Conducting Risk Evaluations for Future Violence: Ethical Practice Is Possible

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Abstract

Psychologists frequently testify in court about an individual's risk for future violence. Decades ago, the basis for such testimony was problematic, but the field has made significant progress. However, recent criticisms raise ethical concerns about risk evaluations and state that current methods do not meet admissibility standards. Responding to such criticisms is important for expert witness involvement in these evaluations. We note that it is feasible to conduct thorough ethical evaluations that will aid judicial and clinical decision making. We argue that the courts find this information necessary, and well-informed professionals can make valid and important contributions in these proceedings. To leave the courts without access to the best science available could cause more harm than good.

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