Self-Reflection on Forensic Report

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Self-reflection (1.5-3 pages, 25/100 points): Throughout this course, we have highlighted the bias/subjectivity inherent when a human forensic evaluator (here, you!) interacts with and forms conclusions about a human criminal defendant. To help you analyze how your own background, experiences, and emotions influenced you during this mock forensic evaluation, you will complete a brief self-reflection. Please integrate your thoughts on the following questions into a single coherent document.

  1. Confidence: On a scale from 0 (not at all confident) to 7 (completely confident), how confident are you in your forensic opinion? Why are you at that level of confidence? What other sources of evidence, if they existed, would increase your level of confidence in your opinion? What other sources of evidence, if they existed, would lead you to change your opinion? (The last line of a forensic report is always something along the lines of, “My opinion is contingent on the evidence reviewed. Should additional evidence come to light, my opinion may change.”)
  2. Idiosyncratic influences: “Idiosyncratic” means “specific or unique to the individual.” Idiosyncratic influences always tug at a forensic evaluator during an evaluation, although we can try to identify those factors and limit their impact on our final opinion. What idiosyncratic factors were at play for you while conducting this mock forensic evaluations?—for example, emotional reactions to the defendant or the crime, past personal experience with crime or the legal system, prior beliefs and perceptions about the mentally ill, political beliefs about appropriate legal punishment, sympathy for the victim, etc. etc. etc. What, if anything, did you do to try to remain objective and limit the impact of these idiosyncratic influences on your opinion? How successful do you think you were? Please note that all forensic evaluators have these idiosyncratic influences, so no need to try to underplay (or overplay) your “bias” in this write-up for the sake of positive impression management with me.

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