Recording routine forensic mental health evaluations should be a standard of practice in the 21st century – 2018

The standard of practice for forensic interviews in criminal and delinquency cases, other than those conducted as part of brief preliminary screening evaluations or in emergency situations, should include a digital recording requirement. This standard should be adopted because of the greater availability of, and familiarity with, recording technology on the part of mental health professionals, the greater use and proven effectiveness of recording in other contexts of the criminal justice system, and the improvement in court presentation and accuracy of judicial determinations involving forensic assessments that recording will provide. The experience of practitioners with recording since professional associations last studied the issue should be taken into account, as informal data suggest it has been positive. Unfortunately, the legal system is unlikely to prompt this advance without its reconsideration by the forensic mental health professions, because current constitutional jurisprudence does not require recording and effectively makes it contingent upon request by examiners. Forensic evaluators thus have a valuable opportunity to educate the legal system on the utility and importance of this key reform, and so should adopt it as a best practice.

David M. Siegel & Robert Kinscherff
Behavioral Sciences & the Law, 25 April 2018