Offense Identification: Police were summoned to a convenience store in response to an electronic alarm. When the police arrived, two men were running out of the store and getting into a car that was being driven by a young woman. The police blocked the entrances and arrested the two men and the woman on the basis of the manager’s identification of the two men. The store manager reported that the men had demanded the cash from the register, and the clerk had handed it over at gunpoint. The driver identified herself as Danita Johnson, and said that the men were her boyfriend Damien and his friend Fred. In subsequent individual interviews both men stated that the robbery was Danita’s idea, and she showed enthusiasm with each step as they developed the plan. They both described Danita as cheering them on, saying things like, “Yeah you could do that. Come on, you can do it.” Danita agreed that she heard Damien and Fred planning the robbery, and that she knew that she would drive them away from it. Danita is charged with conspiracy and accessory.
Psychosocial History: Danita is a 19-year-old white non-Hispanic young woman. She was born in the urban community where she still lives. Danita says that she gets along fine with her mother. She does not know her father and does not have siblings. She describes her mother as being in and out, home irregularly, working sometimes, partying when she can. She doesn’t remember her mother having rules for her to live by in childhood or adolescence except to stay quiet enough. When asked about education, Danita said that she did not graduate from high school. She “had Special Ed instead,” because she struggled with reading and “could not do math the way the other kids did.” She does not remember what her mother thought about her education or the fact that she did not graduate. She says that she has always gotten along with people, but is not “the kind of girl to have best friends.”
Danita met Damien and Fred, both now 20 years old about a year ago when she was partying at a friend’s house. She now seems to be living partly with her mother and partly with Damien, according to her mood. Danita says that her mother does not care where she lives. She doesn’t know what her mother thinks of her boyfriend Damien. When asked about work, Danita said that she has done some babysitting and house cleaning, but has struggled to keep other jobs because she misunderstands instructions from her bosses. She says that they tell her things that are too complicated. She does not plan to work anymore. She plans to stay home because she believes that it’s the man who should earn the money, and she expects Damien to bring home money to her. She doesn’t like it if he works full time because he is gone too much then. She sometimes argues with Damien about how much she should contribute at home and/or whether she should work.
No concerns surfaced in the mental status exam. When interviewed, Danita seemed bewildered and surprised that she was accused of doing something wrong, since she did not rob anyone and she has never touched a gun. When asked specifically about “conspiracy” or “accessory” Danita simply repeated that she has not done anything wrong. It’s not certain that she understood the meaning of the terms. Danita showed no concern about the robbery, the use of the gun, or the fears and reactions of the manager and clerk of the store. She was calm and placid throughout the interview except that she thinks it is unfair that she is being kept in jail. Interviewing Danita was difficult because she gave only brief answers with no detail to any questions. Danita was soft-spoken, and spoke slowly. She was adequately groomed and wore jeans and a T-shirt. Danita denied any previous mental health problems or therapy. She denied drug use except “a normal amount of marijuana” a couple of times a week, and agreed that she drinks some uncertain amount daily.
Danita is in the county jail. You are the forensic case manager at the jail. You are assigned to develop a service and referral plan for Danita. She has no understanding of why she is being held.
Based on the vignette provided, please compose a well-written and organized response to each of the following questions. When writing your responses, please:
- Use APA (6th edition) Style, with 1-inch margins, double-spaced, 12 font, with a reference list at the end.
- Write clearly and concisely.
- Cite appropriate, and especially current, literature (empirical and/or theoretical).
- Avoid all sexist idioms and allusions.
- Remember to demonstrate your multicultural competence where appropriate.
Psychological Theory and Practice
- What assessments would you conduct to enhance your understanding of the client’s problems and how would your choice of assessment(s) inform your diagnostic formation and treatment planning? Assessments may include structured or unstructured interviews, valid and reliable assessment measures, and/or formalized assessment procedures that may be conducted by yourself or by someone else referred by you.
- Provide your diagnostic impressions (based on either the DSM-5 or DSM-IV-TR) for this individual. In narrative form, please describe how the individual meets the diagnostic criteria for the disorder(s) chosen in addition to the differential diagnostic thought process that you used to reach your hypotheses. Be sure to include any additional (missing) information that is needed to either rule out or confirm your differential diagnoses.
Legal Theory and Application
- Explain the background, current presentation, and behavior of the client utilizing theories of offender and/or victim psychology and personality/psychological theories to support your position. Do not simply restate the client’s presentation from the vignette. Instead, provide a theoretical-based discussion of the client’s behaviors as presented in the vignette.
- Describe the psycholegal standards and/or definitions for each of the following: competence to stand trial, risk of dangerousness, and insanity.
Identify and describe one or more landmark case(s) for each standard (at least three cases total). Describe the elements or issues that a mental health professional usually focuses on when assessing a person’s adjudicative competence, risk and insanity, and any additional items that might be especially important to focus on in the provided vignette.
Research and Evaluation
- Describe tests or assessment procedures you would employ to address the psycholegal issues of (competence to stand trial, risk of dangerousness, and insanity). You may refer to these from the Psychological Theory and Assessment Section “A” if you already covered them there. Discuss what the anticipated conclusions would be based upon information provided in the vignette.
- Develop one empirically supported therapeutic treatment plan for the client in the vignette. Please make sure you summarize the empirical evidence with appropriate citations to support your treatment choice(s) in working with your client. Be sure to discuss the effectiveness and limitations in working with this particular client, including this client’s background, using the above treatment plans.
- What diversity factors, cultural considerations, or other demographic variables pertaining to this client would you take into account in rendering diagnoses, choosing assessment measures, forming case conceptualizations, and designing the treatment plan? Be sure to discuss cultural/diversity factors that could apply even if they are not explicitly mentioned in the vignette.
- Your writing, use of citations, ability to form a logical argument, and proper APA Style, including the use of paraphrasing, will be evaluated as a measure of your interpersonal effectiveness. No response is required for “B”.
Leadership, Consultation, and Ethics
- Describe how you would work within a professional treatment team to consult, triage, and treat this case. Include a description of the various members of the professional team with whom you would be likely to interact. Additionally, explain the roles and responsibilities of each member of the treatment team.
- What are the ethical and legal dilemmas this vignette introduced? What would be your immediate steps and why? Please be specific and make sure that you describe your process of ethical decision making and the solutions/consequences to which this process might lead. Your discussion should be informed by the American Psychological Association’s Ethics Code as well as the Specialty Guidelines for Forensic Psychologists