Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Cultural competencies and forensic evaluations: Perlin & McClain (2009)

Perlin, M. & McClain, V. (2009).  Where souls are forgotten:  Cultural competencies, forensic evaluations, and internal human rights.  Psychology Public Policy and Law, 15(4), 257-277. (click here to view)

Cultural competency is critical in criminal forensic evaluations. Cultural competency eschews reliance on stereotypes, 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 fact-finder. While raised frequently in death penalty cases, the idea of cultural competency is equally important to the entire criminal process. To better understand the significance of this inquiry, we address how cultural sensitivity in test selection and interview techniques may enhance result validity. In a parallel fashion, ratification of the United Nations 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 article considers strategies to enhance the effectiveness of testimony and mitigation efforts.

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