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Guest blogger and colleague Shannon Schmitz, an art therapist who has spent many years working as an art therapist in various prison settings, offers heartfelt musings following her recent experience of judging an art show in a makeshift prison art gallery. This post presents the highly unorthodox yet beautiful art created by Blasi, a man locked up for murder over 30 years ago. Guest blogger and artist Elise Lunsford describes a unique and creative approach to promote reconnection and healing with a difficult client in a juvenile detention facility.

In forensic settings, clinicians are warned not to touch the inmates. She demonstrates that art can allow us to reach out and touch those who therapists would otherwise hesitate to touch. Often, women who are emigrating from Mexico—sometimes illegally—may be doing so to escape from violence and suffering. Sometimes, they escape towards it. This post examines how one art therapist, guest blogger Valentina Castro, uses art to help endure and heal from such pain.

Guest blogger and artist Maria Maneos describes the tragic impetus and the development of her innovative nonprofit Prison Art organization "Brush with the Law," and how it has brought about effective and healthy change in those inmates that participate. The latest post, by guest blogger Lariza Fenner, illustrates just how art and art therapy can be used to bring prison inmates together who might otherwise be in violently opposing groups.

You get a lively and informative discussion on the value of Art in Prison. My personal reflections as a Florida State University professor on the campus shootings. As a "socially responsible practitioner," Nelms empowers and provides a voice through art for those who experience grief and loss through the most violent of circumstances. Considered one of the most violent and dangerous inmates of Great Britain, Charles Bronson is also quite the prolific artist. Guest blogger, Nicole Barash, builds upon the previous post, expanding our views and understanding of offering art therapy to forensic mental health patients.

Against expectations, Ms. Barash demonstrates just how effective art making can be for this lost population. Without working in prisons and jails, many clinicians may still find themselves facing forensic issues providing services in the Forensic Mental Health Hospital. Some argue that these settings are even more dangerous and ambiguous than a prison.

The difference between forensic art therapy and art therapy in forensic settings is equivalent to the difference between investigation and intervention. Marcia Sue Cohen Liebman, the leading forensic art therapist in the field, defines and explores this concept for this post.

Convicted murderer, Jodi Arias, has been selling her drawings, first through eBay and then her own dedicated website. This post revisits an examination of the art of murderers, reflecting specifically on the revealing work Arias created. In prison, therapists may find themselves in the crossroads where legal issues, ethical considerations and moral ramifications intersect and sometimes collide with another.

This post explores a situation where I, as an art therapist working in a prison, experienced such conflict, and the poor moral judgment and decision that resulted. Being ethical in our profession is one thing—but what happens if we are called to do something that may put us in a position to examine and question our own moral convictions? This post picks up where the last one left off, and provides a very personal examination of what testifying for the defense of a man who murdered his children did to my own moral compass.

This post examines the ethical considerations and paradoxes experienced by an art therapist testifying as an expert witness for a murder trial. Navigating the crossroads where art therapy, forensics, corrections and criminology meet This blog examines art therapy in the legal system to forensic settings.

Research, anecdotes and philosophical musings will be detailed, from investigation using art-based assessments to therapeutic interventions. In providing the juncture between art therapy, forensics and criminology, nothing is off limits. Back Psychology Today.

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The Psychology of False Confessions: Forty Years of Science and Practice

Some Lie a Lot. In more recent work, he has shown how a confession, true or not, can exert a powerful pull on witnesses and even forensic examiners, shaping the entire trial. Drizin has his own metaphor: "If there was a Mount Rushmore to the study of false confessions, Dr. Kassin's face would be on it. Confessions have always been the "gold standard" indicator of guilt, even though some proved spectacularly misleading. For example, a man who had admitted to a murder in narrowly escaped hanging when his supposed victim was found living in New Jersey.

Kassin was not surprised, having spent years studying police interrogation techniques. In person he projects a kind of affable intensity, with piercing brown eyes and a conversational style that lends urgency to even a casual chat. As a postdoc at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, he studied how juries make decisions and was struck by the power of a confession to practically guarantee a guilty verdict.

He also began to wonder how often those confessions were genuine, after he learned about the Reid interrogation technique, the near-universal method taught to police. Its training manual—now in its fifth edition—was first published in by John Reid, a former Chicago detective and lie detector expert, and Northwestern University law professor Fred Inbau.

Stanley Milgram, a psychologist at Yale University and one of Kassin's heroes, had conducted studies in the s in which subjects were encouraged to give electric shocks to other subjects who were not learning their lessons quickly enough. The volunteers, who didn't know the shocks they gave were fake, were disturbingly willing to inflict pain when someone in authority told them to. A Reid interrogation looks different at first.

It starts with a behavioral assessment, in which the officer asks questions—some irrelevant and some provocative—while watching for signs of deception, such as looking away, slouching, or crossing the arms. If the suspect is thought to be lying, the investigator moves on to phase two, the formal interrogation.

Now, they amp up the questioning—repeatedly accusing the suspect, insisting on hearing details, and ignoring all denials.

A Career as a Corrections Psychologist and Programme Facilitator (JTJS62011)

Meanwhile, the investigator offers sympathy and understanding, minimizing the moral but not legal dimension of the crime and easing the path to confession. Example: "This never would have happened if she didn't dress so provocatively. That phase, with an authority figure applying psychological pressure, reminded Kassin of Milgram's infamous experiments. But whereas Milgram got someone to "harm" another person, the Reid technique gets people to harm themselves by admitting guilt. Kassin suspected that the pressure might sometimes lead to false confessions. To find out, he decided in the early s to model the Reid technique in the lab, with student volunteers.

In what Kassin called the computer crash paradigm, he had students take rapid-fire dictation on computers. He warned them that the system had a glitch and that hitting the Alt key would trigger a crash. That part was a fib: The computers were programmed to crash regardless of which keys were hit.

The experimenter then accused the students of hitting the Alt key. At first, none confessed. Then, Kassin added variables based on what he and other researchers had learned about actual police interrogation tactics. Sometimes, for example, police falsely tell a suspect they have witnesses to the crime—causing a suspect to doubt their own version of events.

Under U. In one of the most striking examples, Marty Tankleff, a Long Island teenager, came to breakfast one morning in to find his parents stabbed on the kitchen floor, his mother dying and his father in a coma. Detectives thought Tankleff was not sufficiently grief-stricken, so he became their prime suspect.


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After hours of getting nowhere, a detective said he had called Tankleff 's father at the hospital and that the injured man said Tankleff had committed the crime. In truth, his father died without regaining consciousness. Shocked beyond reason, Tankleff confessed. He spent 19 years in prison before a growing body of evidence set him free. Kassin could never simulate that kind of trauma in the lab, but he could set up a variation of the computer crash experiment in which a confederate claimed to have seen the student hit the wrong key.

Those students confessed at more than double the rate of students paired with witnesses who said they hadn't seen anything. Under some circumstances, nearly every student facing a false witness confessed.

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Some students ended up believing they really had caused the crash, coming up with explanations such as, "I hit the wrong key with the side of my hand. Another detective told Kassin that during an interrogation, he didn't actually lie about the evidence in hand, but said he expected new, potentially incriminating evidence to come in.

For example, an interrogator might tell a suspect that they were waiting for lab results on DNA from the crime scene. You might think that doing so would get the innocent to deny the crime more vehemently because they expected the results to absolve them. Kassin, however, had interviewed exonerated men who said the prospect of new evidence had a surprising effect. Some confessed just to get out of the stressful situation, figuring that the evidence would later clear them.

Kassin and a colleague tested such police "bluffs" in a variation of the computer crash experiment. This time, in addition to accusing the students, the experimenter said that all the keystrokes had been recorded on the server and would soon be examined. The false confession rate soared. Postexperiment questionnaires revealed that many of the bluffed students, like the men Kassin had interviewed, signed a confession to get out of the room and assumed they'd later be cleared.

In that sense, Kassin says, belief in one's innocence and faith in the justice system can themselves be risk factors. Social scientists worldwide have repeated variations of the computer crash experiments, with similar results. But critics have questioned Kassin's findings because the "crimes" his subjects were charged with could have been simple acts of carelessness, committed unwittingly, and because confessing bore no serious consequences.

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Joseph Buckley, president of John E. Buckley says false confessions occur only when interrogators don't closely follow procedures. In a January report, Buckley said the Reid technique isn't meant to force a confession. Instead, he wrote, its goal "is to create an environment that makes it easier for a subject to tell the truth. Work by other researchers has answered some of those criticisms.

Social psychologist Melissa Russano at Roger Williams University in Bristol, Rhode Island, designed an experiment in which volunteers were asked to solve a set of logic problems—some working in groups and some alone. The researchers stipulated that under no circumstances should anyone assist the students working alone.

Beforehand, however, a few students were coached to become visibly upset. That prompted some of their classmates to help, in violation of the rules. In those experiments, the helpers could not have committed the "crime" without knowing, and confessing carried some consequence because cheating violated the college's honor code. But, just as Kassin found, accusatory questioning often provoked false confessions. Russano also tested another component of standard interrogations—the "minimization" technique that lowers the emotional barrier to confessing. She and colleagues would say things such as, "You probably didn't realize what a big deal this was.

He and social psychologist Richard Ofshe, then at the University of California, Berkeley, also described "persuaded" confessions in which a suspect, worn down by hours of interrogation, goes into a fugue and begins to believe their own guilt. The problem is especially pronounced among adolescents like Burton, who are both impressionable and cowed by authority. Much of the Reid technique involves watching for verbal and nonverbal signs of deception, something many police investigators think they are skilled at doing.

Kassin put that confidence to the test more than a decade ago. He recruited the best liars he could find—a group of prisoners at a Massachusetts penitentiary. For a small fee he asked half to tell the truth of their crimes on video and the other half to lie, saying they had committed someone else's crime.

“Overpowering influences”

He showed the videos to college students and police. Neither group did particularly well at truth detection the average person is right about half the time , but the students performed better than the police. Yet the police felt more certain about their conclusions. A poster in Kassin's office at John Jay College shows 28 faces: men, women, adults, adolescents, white, black, Hispanic.

There's no one kind of person who can give a false confession. It can happen to anybody. Kassin has helped many of them. Defense lawyers and human rights organizations around the world often call on him to analyze confessions or testify about the nature of interrogation—sometimes as a paid consultant or witness, sometimes pro bono.

One face on the poster belongs to Amanda Knox, the U. Kassin's reports to Italian courts were involved in getting her freed. He testified for John Kogut, a Long Island man who after an hour interrogation falsely confessed to raping and murdering a year-old girl. DNA evidence had won Kogut's release after he spent 18 years in prison, but prosecutors retried him on the basis of the confession.