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Welcome to the April 2017 
American Psychology-Law Society      (AP-LS) E-Newsletter.

Our monthly E-News provides information about activities, upcoming events, and resources to connect the psychology-law community.

AP-LS aspires to excel as a valuable, effective, and influential organization advancing the science of psychology-law and the translation of psychology-law knowledge into practice and policy.  

Our most recent full PDF Newsletter (Winter 2017) is available here
We plan to replace the PDF Newsletter with the e-newsletters.


AP-LS has had a quarterly PDF newsletter for many years. However, as part of the organization's plan to become more nimble and modern, we are phasing out the old quarterly PDF newsletter and replacing it with these monthly e-news mailings.  We will continue to have the same kinds of content as the PDF newsletter, but will now deliver the content across 12 months rather than just 4 times per year.  

The time has come for a new editor to be appointed to the post.  Matthew Huss's term as the PDF newsletter editor is coming to a close, and AP-LS would like to appoint the new editor to take over the e-news and help transition us from the PDF format into this newer e-news format.

Are you interested in serving in this new e-news editor role?  If so, please send an email with your statement of interest and your CV to Jennifer Woolard.


A Note for Committee Chairs and Interested Members

We launched a google form about two months ago to have people indicate their interest in serving on various AP-LS committees, and the form was announced at the conference too. We have hundreds of people interested in serving on committees, which is great news!  The committee chairs will begin going through the data soon and contacting people who indicated interest in their committees.

We are asking all committee chairs and all interested people serving in committees to use this form for the new member application process for the sake of consistency, transparency, and fairness.

Full committee terms of reference (descriptions of committees) are here

Committee chairs will use the responses to the form to then contact interested applicants directly with a request for more information. 

Service terms are normally three years, with initial appointments in August.


Part of AP-LS President David DeMatteo's presidential initiative is to send out quarterly updates regarding new cases, laws, etc. that are of interest to the psychology-law community. These updates will be published in the e-news, and the first installment is ready this month.  

Jan - Mar 2017 Update

This is the first installment of a quarterly review and summary of the valuable advancements in the psychological and legal fields. Our goal is to present this information in a comprehensive, but an easily digestible format. Each update will include summaries of relevant and current research findings and legal developments with links to further information.  Sometimes staying on top of all the news, research and legal updates relevant to the field can be a daunting task. Our hope with this quarterly update is to save you some time and keep you informed! 

In the Courtroom

Jury Decision-Making

Worried about evidence suggesting race bias in juries? On March 6, 2017, the Supreme Court ruled that courts must make an exception to the rule that jury deliberations remain secret if they are impacted by racial or ethnic bias. See Pena-Rodriguez v. Colorado. 

For those who do conduct jury simulation research, this new study may help alleviate concerns about using undergraduate student samples to represent mock juries.

Using Race as a Risk Factor: Racial Bias in the Courtroom

The Supreme Court recently held that a Texas death row inmate’s sentencing was unfairly biased by blatantly racist expert testimony. In short, his own attorney’s expert testified that the defendant is more likely to commit violent acts because he is black. See Buck v. Davis.

Juvenile Sentencing: What Does Society Think?

As a reminder, SCOTUS recently held that mandatory life in prison without parole (LWOP)  for juvenile offenders is unconstitutional (because it violates the 8th Amendment prohibition of “cruel and unusual punishment”).  But what about non-mandatory LWOP sentencing? A recent study examined the public’s sentiment regarding juvenile LWOP and, among other findings, found that only 31% of participants agree with juvenile LWOP as a general policy.

Intellectual Disability and the Death Penalty

On March 28, 2017 the Supreme Court continued its trend toward limiting capital punishment for those with intellectual disability (continued in next column).


(Continued from previous column). The Court rejected Texas’s standards for deciding whether an individual’s intellectual disability would preclude him from receiving the death penalty. In writing for the majority, Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg reasoned that Texas’s approach was not consistent with current medical standards, placed too much weight on I.Q. scores, and considered factors rooted in stereotypes.  See Moore v. Texas

In the Community     

Improving the Process for Prisoner Reentry

Reentry programming for previously incarcerated offenders seems like a great idea, but where is the research supporting it? Recent research has shown that individuals feel they may not be receiving the services they need. So what’s the answer? Better integrate offender-perceived needs with needs highlighted in actuarial assessments.

This bill filed in Kentucky, if passed, may be a good model for improving success in reentry. The bill aims to provide workforce training during incarceration, ease restrictions that prevent released offenders from getting jobs, and provide a reentry drug supervision pilot program.

Improving Citizen-Law Enforcement Relations: Police Accountability

This global multi-site randomized clinical trial examined the use of body-worn cameras on police and whether it reduced citizen’s complaints. Studies like this are increasingly more important as tensions have increased among officers and the populations they serve.

Mental Health Care & the Trump Administration

As many are aware, the Trump administration has begun to withdraw federal protections for transgender individuals. This will likely have a large impact on the transgender community, and an even larger impact for incarcerated transgender individuals. As institutional barriers are resurrected, it might be helpful for practicing clinicians to review these guidelines when working with transgender clients. 

As the status of the Affordable Care Act remains in question, see this article for the perspective of some concerned psychologists.  

Final Thoughts

And Lastly, on a positive note…

For information on a promising program, check out NPR’s inspiring Hidden Brain podcast on a CBT program in Chicago designed to reduce violence and increase high school graduate rates among teenage boys.

Until June!

If you have questions, or see or read something you would like to see included in future updates, please contact us! Alice ThornewillShelby Arnold.

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        AP-LS seeks to advance the science of psychology - law and the translation of psychology-law knowledge into practice and policy.  Our mission is to enhance well-being, justice, and human rights through science and practice of psychology in legal contexts.