psy 476 analysis of criminal behavior

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Fall 2019

Take Home Final

Please Note: This final is to be returned to Dr. M. Wapner via e-mail by 11:59 PM on Tuesday, December 17, 2019.Any exam received after that time may result in a grade of Incomplete for the course.


You must answer two (2) of the four (4) Essay questions (worth 30 points each) AND four (4) of the six (6) Short Answer questions (worth 10 points each).

N.B.: Most questions have multiple sections to be answered.You may add details about the individual to help you answer the questions – if you do so, please describe the details in writing your response.However, while you can add details, you may not contradict the details given in the scenario.

Essay Questions (30 points each)

  • Sol Wachtler was depressed throughout the course of his incarceration. His level of depression varied from very mild (almost unnoticeable) to moderate to severe for a number of reasons. Explain, from his standpoint, the benefits and the problems of being placed in a Mental Health Unit. What factors exacerbated his mental health problems? What was his involvement with Mental Health clinicians during his incarceration?Give examples. What role did psychopharmacology play in his treatment both prior to and during his incarceration? Explain.

2. Incarcerated female offenders commonly have personal histories that are marked by:

a. Domestic Violence

b. sex abuse

c. substance abuse

d. pregnancy/children in the community

Discuss how 3 out of 4 issues above impact on: their adjustment while in prison, treatment needs while incarcerated, and discharge planning.

3.From a developmental point of view, explain why the prognosis for a juvenile offender might be good. What are some of the static factors that serve as obstacles to a positive prognosis for: a) an individual adjudicated as a juvenile delinquent; b) a 13-year old with a history of a ADHD; c) an individual with a developmental disability such as Autism?

4.Briefly explain the role that cognitive distortions play in predisposing, precipitating and perpetuating anger & aggression.Give examples of cognitive distortions related to feelings of anger and aggressive outbursts. How do cognitive distortions adversely affect a substance abuser’s likelihood of: making Seemingly Insignificant Decisions, failing to take heed of known triggers, and finding themselves in High Risk Situations?

Short Answer Questions (please answer four (4) questions – 10 points each)

  • Scenario: The teenager accused of the Santa Fe High School massacre has been declared incompetent to stand trial. Dimitrios Pagourtzis has been ordered “committed to and confined” to a Texas Department of State Health Services facility, the ruling states. The treatment may not exceed 120 days. The order states Pagourtzis is unfit for trial as of Oct. 18. The trial, which was moved to Fort Bend County, was set to begin in February 2020.

Pagourtzis’ mental state has been the focus of several discussions between prosecutors and defense attorneys since the shooting that killed 10 and injured 13 others.In August, attorneys for Pagourtzis said his mental state had deteriorated to the point that he doesn’t understand the case before him.

Issue: Survivors of the mass shooting at Santa Fe High School were outraged to learn that the suspected shooter may not be fit to stand trial.Explain briefly what concepts these survivors are confusing.

  • What unique needs/problems do juvenile sex offenders encounter upon re-entry to the community?
  • Briefly explain how an undetected mental health problem or intellectual disability can result in behavioral problems in a correctional facility.How can placement in a Special Needs Unit help the mentally retarded/developmentally disabled and the seriously persistently mentally ill? Give examples.
  • Explain how resilience impacts on the reaction to trauma and the development of PTSD. Give examples.
  • In the movie ‘Nuts’, Claudia Daraper was at times melodramatic, occasionally provocative, at other times histrionic and agitated, but so what?! Was she competent to stand trial? Do you think Sol Wachtler was competent to stand trial? Why or why not? Give examples to back up your decision for each.
  • Sol Wachtler described his experience of being in solitary confinement and compared it to judicial decisions he’d made regarding solitary confinement.Briefly describe how solitary confinement could be modified so that it’s less psychologically harmful/more humane.


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