Christina L. Riggs Romainea and Antoinette Kavanaughb
aWheaton College, Norton, Massachusetts, USA; bPrivate Practice, Chicago, Illinois, USA
Volume 18, 2019 – Issue 2
In legal systems with complex disparities and potential biases, the reporting of the evaluee’s race or ethnicity (ERE) in the written forensic mental health report (FMHR) has both risks and benefits, yet few resources provide guidance on when and how to include this information. Available information suggests current practice in reporting ERE varies widely, and few recommendations and best practices guidelines exist. This article examines the available information and explores reasons for and against including ERE in the FMHR, examining how each fits with established principles of assessment. Benefits and potential consequences of including ERE, including implicit bias, the potential for stereotype threat and the problems with colorblind approaches, are discussed. Available research suggests carefully considered practice is required and decisions to include ERE should be based on a culturally competent weighing of relevance.
Antoinette Kavanaugh will be presenting on August 24 at the Law and Mental Health Series presented by the University of New Mexico. The August flyer has not yet been posted, but to get on the mailing list for that lecture series, send an email to HSC-LawMentalHealth@salud.unm.edu