Thumbnail Image

Culture is our business: Issues and challenges for forensic and correctional psychologists

Psychology has made significant advances in the development of more empirical, standardized, and consistent approaches to the prediction, assessment, and treatment of offending behaviour. However, crime occurs in a cultural context. Similarly, forensic and correctional psychology derive from a cultural basis that privileges certain types of knowledge and promotes certain forms of practice that are incommensurate with the outlook and realities of some offenders and their communities. While there is an emerging literature on ethnicity and race in criminal justice psychology, very little research that addresses culture is published. The reasons for this knowledge gap are complex, not least because the worldviews of indigenous and diverse communities do not superimpose neatly onto current best-practice models of risk assessment or offender rehabilitation. Given Australia and New Zealand’s commitment to the involvement and wellbeing of indigenous peoples as well as the shared experience of progressively more pluralistic societies, it is argued that there is a critical need to bring the somewhat disparate domains of forensic psychology and culture into conversation with a view to informing policy and practice. The example of risk assessment is used to illustrate some of the complexities of working with cultural difference. Central to this article is a call for a culturally-engaged and proactive philosophy of practice that embraces the needs of diverse offenders, victims and communities.
Journal Article
Type of thesis
Tamatea, A. J. (2017). Culture is our business: Issues and challenges for forensic and correctional psychologists. Australian Journal of Forensic Sciences, 49(5), 564–578. https://doi.org/10.1080/00450618.2016.1237549
Taylor & Francis LTD
This is an author’s accepted version of an article published in the journal: Australian Journal of Forensic Sciences. © 2016 Australian Academy of Forensic Sciences.