PSY 545 7-2 Journal: Civil Commitment and Ethical Issues
Review the following website: Civil Commitment in the United States.
In your journal, reflect on ethical issues that you can foresee coming up as a forensic psychologist who does civil commitment assessments. How can you as an assessment psychologist be cognizant of them, work through them, or avoid them?
Also, consider the special populations mentioned in the article. How does ethics play a part in their assessment? What are your thoughts on singling out these populations? How will you apply this knowledge to your current or future practice?
For additional details, please refer to the Journal Guidelines and Rubric document.
Chapter 7 of Forensic Psychology (Huss, 2014) discusses civil commitment, and a summary follows. Civil commitment is when an individual is involuntarily hospitalized or mandated to receive treatment. Every state has different criteria for civil commitment, so it is important to do that research within one’s own state. The baseline criteria for the majority if not all of the states are that a person must be mentally ill and dangerous to be committed. It is important to then research and find out if there are additional criteria and what those may entail.
An individual can be committed on an emergency basis, and this is generally short-term commitment or mandated through a court process.
A forensic psychologist’s role in committing an individual is to assess the individual and give recommendations as needed. The psychologist will assess the individual’s dangerousness, risk for violence, and safety to others.
Several states have laws allowing for sexual offenders to be civilly committed. These civil commitments are used for chronic offenders or violent or predatory offenders. During their civil commitment, they undergo treatment in a setting that allows them to focus on treatment with professionals who are trained and specialize in treating civilly committed offenders. Often, at the end of treatment, offenders can be evaluated for their risk and possibly released based on the results.
Huss, M. T. (2014). Forensic psychology (2nd ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.