Judges’ perceptions of violence risk among defendants with mental illness [2020]

Objective: We examined the extent to which judges’ personal or family history with psychiatric disorders influenced their perception of violence risk among criminal defendants diagnosed with/without a Schizophrenia Spectrum Disorder (Schizophrenia). Method: 66 judges completed one randomized vignette via an online survey and answered questions pertaining to their personal or family history with psychiatric disorders and defendant violence risk. Logistical regression was used to analyze variations in perception of violence risk among judges with/without a personal or family history with psychiatric disorders. Results: Compared to judges who reported personal or family history with psychiatric disorders, judges who did not report such were more likely to perceive defendants with schizophrenia spectrum disorder as posing a risk for violence. Conclusions: Findings support a need to educate judges about factors associated with violence risk in defendants with/without psychiatric disorders.

Peter Simonsson, Megan M. Farwell & Phyllis L. Solomon
The Journal of Forensic Psychiatry & Psychology, 13 Apr 2020
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