Academic journal article Canadian Psychology

Criminal Justice Education and Training: A Survey of Canadian Graduate Schools of Psychology

Academic journal article Canadian Psychology

Criminal Justice Education and Training: A Survey of Canadian Graduate Schools of Psychology

Article excerpt

Abstract

Criminal justice psychology (CJP) has grown tremendously during the past twenty years. With this expansion comes the need for specific training. Although information on CJP training at U.S. based universities has appeared in the literature (e.g., Brodsky, 1978; Roesch, Grisso, & Poythress, 1986), no such information exists regarding Canadian universities. All Canadian universities that offer graduate work in psychology (N = 34) were surveyed. Responses from 28 programs indicated that 15 of these offered criminal justice training. Three programs (British Columbia, Queen's, Simon Fraser) used a structured format, while the others were self-directed. Descriptive analyses are presented for comparisons between structured and self-directed programs as well as on the basis of magnitude and comprehensiveness. The findings are discussed in terms of Canadian opportunities for graduate training in CJP and the proposed criteria for specialty designation in applied psychology.

Crime and justice attract considerable attention from both the general public and scholars. Casual observation of the mass media indicates that stories of antisocial behaviour receive a high degree of coverage. As well, the disproportionate amount of bookstore shelf space reserved for material on crime suggests the public has a healthy appetite for information on the so-called 'criminal mind'. Academics and practitioners have shown a similar interest in what is commonly referred to as criminal justice psychology (CJP)(f.2). The tremendous increase in professional attention to criminal justice psychology has led some to suggest that it is psychology's new growth industry (Melton, 1987). Even a cursory review of the CJP literature and practice of CJP would suggest that it is at least a candidate for specialty designation. Certainly, the criteria of the American Psychological Association (APA), which include uniqueness of client population, techniques and technologies, problems addressed, and service settings, all apply (Sales, Bricklin, & Hall, 1983). Moreover, the Specialty Guidelines for Forensic Psychologists (Committee for Ethical Guidelines for Forensic Psychologists, 1991), which were developed by a joint committee of Division 41 of APA and the American Psychology-Law Society, attest to the uniqueness of CJP, not only from a substantive content area, but also from a professional and ethical standpoint.

Canadian psychologists have been particularly active in criminal justice psychology. Rice and Quinsey (1986) have noted Canadian research has been at the forefront in several areas through the development of new and better methods of prevention, assessment, and treatment within psychiatric and correctional institutions. Gendreau (in press) contends that Canadian CJP is relatively more advanced than that of the United States, due in part to a stronger commitment to the rehabilitative ideal within Canadian corrections. In a review of the historical role and practice of psychology in corrections, Watkins (1992) recognized that two specific criminal justice agencies, the Correctional Service of Canada and Ontario's provincial Ministry of Correctional Services, have been contemporary in their approach to the management of offenders for the past thirty years. Therefore, one might expect that CJP is well represented in Canadian graduate schools of psychology.

The expansion of CJP brings with it a need for trained professionals. In 1973, Speilberger, Megargee, and Ingram argued that psychology must develop educational programs that turn out competent professionals who understand the area and have the requisite skills to make effective contributions, if CJP was ever to have a meaningful role in the justice system. Various studies that have examined the extent of criminal justice education and training in American universities suggest that American graduate schools in psychology have responded to this challenge (Brodsky, 1978; Grisso, Sales, & Bayless, 1982; Roesch, Grisso, & Poythress, 1986; Heilbrun, & Annis, 1988). …

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