You are required to research and write a paper on a topic related to psychology and the law – focusing on the role of the investigator(s), elements of the criminal justice system, and/or the behaviors of the offender and/or victims. In addition to material found in your text books, you are to explore other “academic” sources (criminal justice, psychology, or forensic journals for example), as well as video clips, documentaries, pictures, blogs, newspaper articles, and other documents to inform you about your chosen forensic psychology related topic. Be creative, look for something unique to study regarding this broad field; there are so many interesting aspects to the application of psychology to the legal field – other than embellished and glorified stories of serial killers or generic, Hollywood notions of ‘profiling’ – please stay away from basic serial killer summaries, websites, and reviews.
You are then tasked with writing a paper that analyzes the information you have found (approximately 1500-2000 words, double-spaced, Times, 12 font). These papers need to be written in APA style, including references.
I have provided you with a list of potential topics, many of them are from the Bull et al., book, however, other aspects of psychology and law can be found in the various elements of investigative or judicial practices.
Forensic psychology in hostage negotiations is the topic that I have chosen to write about.
Investigative task forces – acknowledging a killer is functioning in the community, interagency communication, cooperation, or coordination of the criminal investigative function, minimal allocation of resources, dealing with the media and public pressure to solve cases, etc.
Estimating time since death – how and why we make this determination, how/why is this important for investigators, perhaps it includes the exploration of multiple crimes scenes within one incident (victim/offender initial contact cite, where the assault/death took place, perhaps a different body dump cite), etc.
Focusing in victimology – most serial killer victims are those who live high-risk lifestyles (homeless, prostitutes, drug addicts – what are often (sadly) referred to as a/the “less-victim”. We also see killers choose victims based on ‘someone’ in his/her life – a mother or father, a lover who scorned him/her, etc. What does the research tell us about the victim/offender relationship? How might understanding the victim aid investigators in the overall investigation of the killer?
Investigative Database – for example, the HITs (Homicide Investigation Tracking System), or the National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS)
Linkage blindness – often defined as an investigative failure to recognize a pattern which “links” one crime with another crime in a series of cases through victimology, geographic region or area of events, the “Signature” of the offender, similar MO and a review of autopsy protocols.