Ethical and Professional Conflicts in Correctional Psychology

Professional Psychology Research and Practice (Impact Factor: 1.34). 04/1994; 25(2):161-167. DOI: 10.1037/0735-7028.25.2.161


The role of the mental health professional in a prison setting has changed to reflect the prevailing ideology of the correctional administration that deemphasizes treatment and emphasizes security and custodial concerns. As a consequence, mental health professionals who work in corrections have experienced unique ethical and professional conflicts. Standards were developed to address the conflicts and provide guidelines for professional conduct, but dilemmas continue to exist. The authors indicate this can be attributed to (1) the standards being vague and (2) correctional personnel not understanding or supporting the standards or the psychologist's role as a mental health professional. This article examines these propositions in more detail, using vignettes and discussion, and offers other approaches to resolving the dilemmas and improving the delivery of mental health services to incarcerated individuals. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)

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    • "In the Federal Bureau of Prisons, for example, most of these assessments are conducted at federal medical centers or by a single psychologist at a so-called satellite assessment facility in a general population prison. Weinberger and Sreenivasan (1994) discussed the special nature of prison psychology in their article on ethical issues faced by correctional psychologists. They noted that, in some prison systems, mental health departments operate under the authority of correctional services . "
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