Correctional Psychologist

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Correctional Psychologist

Correctional Psychologist

Module 5: Draft Submission

Title Page


Forensic psychology is an exciting and relatively new field at the intersection of psychology and law. There are numerous definitions of what, exactly, forensic psychology is (Brigham and Grisso, 2003; Bartol and Bartol, 1999, p. 3). Generally, forensic psychologists work at the interface between law and psychology. This can include assessing suspects for the courts, treating mentally-ill offenders in correctional institutions and in the community, advising the court with respect to child custody, and assessing the dangerousness of convicted criminals.


A consequence of the streaming that occurs according to a woman's legal status and/or her physical and mental health condition upon admission and throughout her sentence is that the two correctional centres in this study have very different complexions. Notwithstanding that difference, the study's main finding - that custodial location was the predominant factor regarding satisfaction with health-care services received in custody, and for rating health care received inside compared with outside prison - has implications for those jurisdictions responsible for ensuring physical access to health-care services for inmates, and for the provision of health services to inmates to ensure that services meet the needs of female inmates at each custodial location - in this case the New South Wales Department of Corrective Services and the New South Wales Corrections Health Service respectively. The view that prison health care should be at least equal to that of the general community has become accepted in many countries over the past decade and is referred to as the “principle of equivalence” (Tomasevski, 1994). This fully recognises that inmates' rights to health care are similar to individuals at liberty. More in-depth studies may be warranted to ascertain reasons for the disparities in women's attitudes towards the health care received at both correctional centre locations.

A very important finding from the study was that, regardless of custodial location, indigenous women appeared to be more satisfied than non-indigenous women with the health care they received in custody. A possible explanation for this is that each correctional centre was served by the Aboriginal Medical Service (AMS) from its region during the study period, although at Centre A the AMS did not commence until August 1996. However, as the 1996 survey was conducted in late September/early October 1996, at best only two or three weekly clinics would have been held at Centre A during the intervening period, and so would have had minimal effect on inmates' views. A study of dedicated indigenous custodial health services conducted in 1998 described aspects of this topic in relation to location. The study found that the presence of an Aboriginal health worker and/or a dedicated Aboriginal clinic facilitated access by Aboriginal women to health services while in custody (Sefton and Hastings, 1998). Further studies exploring the effects of Aboriginal medical services at correction centres would be beneficial.

Another important finding was that, for several outcomes, older women appeared to be more likely than younger women to be satisfied with the health care they received ...
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