Forensic Psychologist Evaluates Potentially Dangerous Patient

Forensic Psychology ExpertThis case involves a woman who fatally stabbed her husband while having a schizophrenic episode. The woman had been diagnosed with schizophrenia the year prior to the incident and prescribed antipsychotic medication. The woman had developed insomnia from the antipsychotic, and elected to stop taking the medication in the 2 months prior to the incident. The woman was subsequently treated at a state mental hospital and as a result of treatment, her episodes stopped. The woman was interested in moving to a half-way house designed to rehabilitate such individuals. An expert forensic psychologist was sought to review the medical records and evaluate the woman to determine whether or not she remained a danger to the public.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • 1. Please describe your background in forensic psychology.
  • 2. What might qualify such an individual for release on conditions?
  • 3. How would you evaluate such a patient?

Expert Witness Response E-127901

As a forensic psychologist at a state hospital for 14 years, I frequently evaluated patients for violence risk regarding potential conditional release into the community. I also supervised postdoctoral fellows in forensic psychology who conducted over 100 such evaluations. Conditional release generally requires that the person would not be a danger to others while under conditional release settings in the community. As such, one’s mental illness would need to be under good control pharmacologically, the patient would need substantial insight into the nature of the mental illness and the need for continued treatment, and the patient should otherwise have few significant risk factors for violence. Evaluation generally would require a probing face-to-face interview, possible psychological testing, and review of the extensive records from the psychiatric hospitalization.

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