The Neuropsychological Assessment of Justice-Involved Men: Descriptive Analysis, Preliminary Data, and a Case for Group-Specific Norms [2017]

Neuropsychological expertise has played an increasing role in legal decision-making in criminal contexts. Valid neuropsychological evidence in criminal forensic contexts requires normative data that are representative of justice-involved individuals. Unfortunately, existing normative data appear unlikely to represent justice-involved individuals due to significant demographic and clinical factors specific to this population. As a result, the interpretation of neuropsychological performance with justice-involved individuals using existing normative data may increase the risk of inaccurate description, invalid clinical conceptualization, misdiagnosis of impairment, and misattribution of deficits in functional-legal capacities. The current study aimed to examine the use of neuropsychological assessment with justice-involved men.

A sample of incarcerated men (N = 95) was assessed using a battery of demographic, clinical, and neuropsychological measures.

Descriptive analyses showed the demographic and clinical diversity of justice-involved men. Inferential statistical analyses, effect size calculations, and clinical analyses demonstrated that a sample of justice-involved men performed significantly differently and was more impaired than commonly referenced normative samples across multiple measures of intellectual functioning, attention, verbal fluency, and executive functioning. Preliminary data are provided to aid the use of the selected neuropsychological measures with justice-involved men.

Justice-involved men appear to represent a distinct neuropsychological population. Group-specific normative data will be useful to help ensure that opinions about these individuals are relevant, valid, and admissible within legal decision-making in criminal contexts. The current data can guide future efforts to develop substantive normative data on neuropsychological measures likely to be used in the assessment of justice-involved men.

Casey LaDuke, David DeMatteo, Kirk Heilbrun, Jennifer Gallo, Thomas Swirsky-Sacchetti
Archives of Clinical Neuropsychology, Volume 32, Issue 8, December 2017