New Assessment Tool for Forensic Psychologists Measures Understanding of Miranda Rights

sama_coverPAR is pleased to announce the release of the Standardized Assessment of Miranda Abilities™ (SAMA™).The SAMA is designed to help forensic psychologists evaluate a defendant’s understanding of his or her Miranda rights.

Since the watershed decision of Miranda v. Arizona in 1966, the Supreme Court has continued to define what is legally required for Miranda warnings and waivers. Today, Miranda warnings are required to address five issues:

  • the right to silence;
  • the risk of waiving the right to silence;
  • the right to counsel;
  • the availability of counsel for indigent defendants; and
  • the option to reassert these rights at any time.

In addition, any waiver of Miranda rights must be made voluntarily, knowingly, and intelligently.

Developed by Richard Rogers, PhD, ABPP, one of the leading experts on Miranda law in the U.S, the SAMA includes five measures that assess vocabulary and comprehension of the wording typically used in Miranda warnings as well as the knowledge, beliefs, misconceptions, and reasoning skills that may affect an individual’s choice to exercise or waive his or her rights. Highly valid and reliable, the SAMA provides a clear picture of a defendant’s thinking in regard to Miranda decision-making.

To learn more about the SAMA or any of PAR’s other forensic/legal products, visit www.parinc.com or call 1.800.331.8378.

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Meet Randy K. Otto, PhD, ABPP, Co-Author of the Inventory of Legal Knowledge™ (ILK™)

Why did you choose to enter the field of psychology?
Initially, what I found most compelling about the field of psychology was psychopathology—its development and treatment. During my latter years in college, however, I became increasingly interested in society’s formal responses to persons with mental disorders. This, combined with a longstanding interest in the law, led me to enter Florida State University’s doctoral program in clinical psychology, since a number of faculty in the psychology department were interested in interactions between the legal and mental health systems.

What made you decide to develop the Inventory of Legal Knowledge?
I decided to develop the ILK because of my longstanding clinical and research interests in two areas—assessment of criminal competencies and assessment of response style. I also had the opportunity to work with a great colleague, Jeff Musick, who I had the pleasure of supervising when he completed his clinical psychology internship at the University of South Florida. Jeff had developed what could be considered an early ILK prototype. After some discussion, we concluded it would be a good project on which to collaborate. The rest, as they say, is history.

What would you like to tell people about your product that they may not know?
Two things. First, both Jeff and I regularly evaluate defendants whose competence to proceed with the legal process is raised as an issue. I like to think that, as a result, we are sensitive to the many realities facing forensic psychologists, and that we designed and developed a tool that is user-friendly as a result. I would also like to share that we first agreed that the name of the instrument would be the Competence Assessment Tool, or COMPASS, for short. We thought that the idea of a compass providing direction was particularly clever and would make for a great graphic on the test manual cover, to boot.  Unfortunately, an assessment instrument with a similar name was already in existence. Our second choice was the Inventory of Legal Knowledge, the ILK.

How do you spend your free time?
When not at work or with my family, I am most likely to be found on a motorcycle or in a game of No Limit Texas Hold ‘Em.

Meet Michael Shahnasarian, PhD, Author of the Earning Capacity Assessment Form™-2nd Edition (ECAF™-2)

Why did you choose to enter the field of psychology?
My father was a mechanical engineer and very early in my childhood I realized I had no manual aptitude or skills whatsoever. So that career option was closed by lack of talent. My mother always encouraged me to pursue helping professions. When I began taking psychology classes in college at Indiana University, I had a natural affinity for the subject matter.

What made you decide initially to develop the ECAF™-2?
As a practitioner, I realized that the discipline needs more standardization and objectivity and many practicing vocational experts shared my beliefs. In fact, there is a formal group in California that is attempting to develop practice standards. As I gained experience over the years, I learned that there is no other measure equivalent to the ECAF-2.

What would you like to tell people about your product that they may not know?
It has been under development for over a decade and it has been well-validated through a number of published reliability and validity studies. Also, it incorporates generally accepted methods in sync with mainstream theories.

What would you like to tell people about yourself that they may not know?
My first novel, Justice Indicted, will be published in February 2011. The book is a social commentary based on my experiences as an expert witness for over 25 years.

How do you spend your free time?
I spend my free time traveling with my wife. I have three children ages 16-22. I’ll be accompanying my oldest child on a trip to London later this month; he is enrolling in a master’s program at the London School of Economics.