Advertisement

Springer Nature is making Coronavirus research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

Assessments of dangerousness: Legal, research, and clinical developments

  • 58 Accesses

  • 9 Citations

Abstract

This article explores recent groundbreaking court decisions regarding permissible preventive detentions that are based on assessments of dangerousness. It is concluded that courts are increasingly receptive to upholding such preventive actions, and that the research to date has left unresolved important questions regarding the validity of these assessments. Basic principles of risk assessment are also presented and discussed.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

References

  1. Addington v. Texas, 441 U.S. 418 (1979).

  2. American Psychiatric Association. (1974).Clinical aspects of the violent individual. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.

  3. American Psychological Association. (1978). Report of the task force on the role of psychology in the criminal justice system.American Psychologist, 33, 1099–1113.

  4. Appelbaum, P.S., & Gutheil, T.G. (1991).Clinical handbook of psychiatry and the law (2nd ed.). Baltimore: Williams & Wilkins.

  5. Barefoot v. Estelle, 463 U.S. 880, 77 L.Ed. 2d 1090 (1983).

  6. Beck, J.C. (1990). Clinical aspects of the duty to warn or protect. In R. Simon (Ed.),Review of clinical psychiatry and the law, Volume 1 (pp. 191–204). Washington, DC, American Psychiatric Press.

  7. Brooks, A.D. (1992). The constitutionality and morality of civilly committing violent sexual predators.Univ. Puget Sound Law Review, 15, 709–754.

  8. Cococzza, J.J., & Steadman, H.J. (1978). Prediction in psychiatry: An example of misplaced confidence in experts.Social Problems, 25, 265–276.

  9. Commonwealth v. Rosenberg, 410 Mass. 447, 573 N.E. 2d 949 (1991).

  10. Dershowitz, A. (1969, February(. The psychiatrist's power in civil commitment: A knife that cuts both ways.Psychology Today, p. 47.

  11. Dix, G.E. (1980). Clinical evaluation of the “dangerousness” of “normal” criminal defendants.Virginia Law Review, 66, 523–581.

  12. Ennis, B.J., & Litwack, T.R. (1974). Psychiatry and the presumption of expertise: Flipping coins in the courtroom.California Law Review, 62, 693–752.

  13. foucha v. Louisiana, 463 U. S. 715 (1972).

  14. Grisso, T., & Appelbaum, P.S. (1992). Is it unethical to offer predictions of violence?Law and Human Behavior, 16, 621–633.

  15. Grisso, T., & Appelbaum, P.S. (1993). Structuring the debate about ethical predictions of future violence.Law and Human Behavior, 17, 482–485.

  16. Hall, H.V. (1987).Violence prediction: Guidelines for the forensic practitioner. Springfield, IL: Charles C. Thomas.

  17. In re Harris, 98 Wash. 2d 276, 654 P. 2d 109 (1982).

  18. In re Young, 122 Wash. 2d 1, 857 P. 2d 989 (1993).

  19. Jones v. United States, 463 U.S. 354 (1983).

  20. Kozol, H.L., Boucher, R.J., & Garofalo, R.F. (1972). The diagnosis and treatment of dangerousness.Crime and Delinquency, 19, 371–392.

  21. Lessard v. Schmidt, 349 F. Supp. 1078 (1972), vacated on other grounds, 414 U.S. 473 (1974).

  22. Lidz, C.W., Mulvey, E.P. & Gardner, W. (1993). The accuracy of predictions of violence to others.Journal of the American Medical Association, 269, 1007–1011.

  23. Litwack, T.R. (1993). On the ethics of dangerousness assessments.Law and Human Behavior, 17, 479–482.

  24. Litwack, T.R., Kirschner, S.M., & Wack, R.C. (1993). The assessment of dangerousness and predictions of violence: Recent research and future prospects.Psychiatric Quarterly, 64, 245–273.

  25. Litwack, T.R., & Schlesinger, L.B. (1987). Assessing and predicting violence: Research, law, and applications. In I.B. Weiner, & A.K. Hess (Eds.),Handbook of forensic psychology (pp. 205–257). New York: John Wiley & Sons.

  26. Megargee, E.I. (1981). Methodological problems in the prediction of violence. In: J.R. Hays, T.K. Roberts, & K.S. Solway (Eds.),Violence and the violent individual (pp. 179–191). New York: Spectrum.

  27. Meloy, J.R. (1987). The prediction of violence in outatient psychotherapy.American Journal of Psychotherapy, XLI, pp. 38–45.

  28. Monahan, J. (1981).Predicting violent behavior: An assessment of clinical techniques. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.

  29. Monahan, J. (1984). The prediction of violent behavior: Toward a second generation of theory and policy.American Journal of Psychiatry, 141, 10–15.

  30. Monahan, J. (1988). Risk assessment of violence among the mentally disordered: Generating useful knowledge.International Journal of Law and Psychiatry, 11, 249–257.

  31. Monahan, J. (1993). Limiting therapist exposure toTarasoff liability.American Psychologist, 48, 242–250.

  32. Monahan, J., & Steadman, H.J. (1994). Toward a rejuvenation of risk assessment research. In J. Monahan & H. Steadman (Eds.),Violence and mental disorder: Developments in risk assessment. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

  33. Mulvey, E.P., & Lidz, C.W. (1984). Clinical considerations in the prediction of dangerousness in mental patients.Clinical Psychology Reviews, 4, 379–401.

  34. Mulvey, E.P., & Lidz, C.W. (1985). Back to basics: A critical analysis of dangerousness research in a new legal environment.Law and Human Behavior, 9 209–219.

  35. Mulvey, E.P., & Lidz, C.W. (1993). Measuring patient violence in dangerousness research.Law and Human Behavior, 17, 277–288.

  36. O'Connor v. Donaldson, 422 U.S. 563 (1975).

  37. Pollack, N., McBain, I., & Webster, C. (1989). Clinical decision making and the assessment of dangerousness. In K. Howells & C.R. Hollen (eds.),Clinical approaches to violence. New York: John Wiley & Sons.

  38. Pollack, N., & Webster, C. (1990). The clinical assessment of dangerousness. In R. Bluglass & P. Bowden (Eds.),Principles and practice of forensic psychiatry. London: Churchill Livingston.

  39. Prins, H. (1988). Dangerous clients: Further observations on the limitation of mayhem.British Journal of Social Work, 18, 593–609.

  40. Quinsey, V., & Maguire, A. (1986). Maximum security psychiatric patients: Actuarial and clinical predictions of dangerousness.Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 1, 143–171.

  41. Schall v. Martin, 467 U. S. 253, 81 L. Ed. 2d 207 (1984).

  42. Scott, P.D. (1977). Assessing dangerousness in criminals.British Journal of Psychiatry, 131, 127–142.

  43. Seltzer v. Hogue, 594 N.Y.S. 2d 781 (1993).

  44. State v. Pryor, 115 Wash. 2d 445, 799 P. 2d 244 (1990).

  45. Steadman, H.J., Monahan, J., Appelbaum, P.S., Grisso, T.A., Mulvey, E.P., & Roth, L. (1990). The MacArthur risk assessment study: A project of the MacArthur research network on mental health and the law. Unpublished manuscript.

  46. Steadman, H.J., Monahan, J., Appelbaum, P.S., Grisso, T., Mulvey, E.P., Roth, L.H., Robbins, P.C., and Klassen, D. (1994). Designing a new generation of risk assessment research. In J. Monahan & H. Steadman (Eds.),Violence and mental disorder: Developments in risk assessment. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

  47. United States v. Sahhar, 917 F. 2d 1197 (1990), cert. denied, 111 S.Ct. 1591 (1991).

  48. United States v. Salerno, 481 U. S. 739 (1987).

  49. Wack, R.C. (1993). The ongoing risk assessment in the treatment of forensic patients on conditional release status.Psychiatric Quarterly, 64, 275–293.

  50. Wettstein, R.M. (1984). The prediction of violent behavior and the duty to protect third parties.Behavioral Sciences and the Law, 2, 291–317.

  51. Wiest, J. (1981). Treatment of violent offenders.Clinical Social Work Journal, 9, 271–281.

Download references

Author information

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Litwack, T.R. Assessments of dangerousness: Legal, research, and clinical developments. Adm Policy Ment Health 21, 361–377 (1994). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00710626

Download citation

Keywords

  • Public Health
  • Risk Assessment
  • Basic Principle
  • Clinical Development
  • Preventive Action