Perlin, Michael L. and McClain, Valerie Rae, 'Where Souls are Forgotten': Cultural Competencies, Forensic Evaluations and International Human Rights (July 30, 2009). Psychology, Public Policy and Law, Vol. 15, 2009; NYLS Legal Studies Research Paper No. 09/10 #6. Available at SSRN(click here):
Cultural competency is critical in criminal forensic evaluations. Cultural competency eschews reliance on stereotype, precluding the mistake of assuming that cultural dictates apply with equal force to all who share a cultural background, thus allowing the forensic examiner to provide a comprehensive picture of the defendant to the factfinder. While raised frequently in death penalty cases, it is equally important to the entire criminal process. Cultural sensitivity in test selection and interview techniques that enhance validity of results are addressed. In a parallel fashion, ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities has drawn importance to cultural competency. Although international human rights and cultural sensitivity have been considered with regard to race, gender and religion, applications to criminal matters are still in their infancy. This paper considers strategies to enhance the effectiveness of testimony and mitigation efforts.
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