Psychological Evaluations - Probation

Many juvenile and adult offenders have psychological problems that play a role in the commission of a crime. A criminal act may simply be the result of a lack of compliance with normal social rules, or even psychopathic or sociopathic behavior. However, it is often part of a pattern of psychological acting out, in response to an underlying psychological disorder. Identification and treatment of these underlying psychological problems can reduce the rate of recidivism in many offenders. This issue is especially important for individuals placed on probation, because their offenses are often less severe, and many are first offenders.  Providing psychological treatment to adult and juvenile probationers with diagnosed psychological problems that contributed to their criminal behavior, benefits society and the offender. Individuals with poor impulse control, anger management problems, substance abuse, and personality disorders are most likely to act out and commit an act resulting in probation. Additionally, more serious mental health problems that contribute to criminal behavior may require close monitoring by a psychologist. For example, this may include individuals with bipolar disorder, or psychotic disorders, who commit violent offenses because of their disorder. (Note that all individuals with these disorders do not commit crimes.)

With juveniles, criminal behavior may be the result of poor or absent parenting, or being raised in a problematic or dysfunctional family.  Psychological evaluation of juvenile offenders is an essential part of the family court system, because the thrust of the juvenile justice system is to provide rehabilitation. A juvenile offender may need psychological treatment, educational assistance, or treatment for a substance abuse problem. When placed on probation, provision of these needed rehabilitation services will reduce the possibility of recidivism. For this reason, evaluation of juveniles on probation, and tracking their progress in treatment, is essential.

The psychological evaluation process includes a review of all of the charges, plus a review of all past charges on the record. For juveniles, it can be helpful to see academic school records, including attendance records, and any child study team evaluations or classifications are extremely important. The probationer is seen for a clinical interview to assess his/her psychological status, and to identify any psychological disorders. If indicated in the interview, personality tests or other psychological assessment instruments used to identify depression, psychopathy, or other psychological disorders may be administered. Depending on the circumstances of the case, family members may also be interviewed. 

A comprehensive report summarizes the clinical findings of the evaluation. Additionally, the report will present conclusions, based on reasonable psychological certainty, regarding any connection between the identified psychological problems and the individual's criminal activity. The psychologist will make specific recommendations for treatment, and will present a prognosis regarding the likelihood of repeat offenses in the future, with and without treatment. The psychologist may also be asked to monitor progress in treatment.

Dr. Franklin provides both psychological evaluations of probationers, 
and psychological treatment to individuals on probation. 
Contact Dr. Franklin at (908) 526-8111 for more information.