AP-LS Monthly E-News                                                     Facebook  |  Twitter  | LinkedIn

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

Our new 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 - and final - full PDF Newsletter (Summer 2017) is available here.  We are appointing a new editor, who will take over the E-News and transition from the PDF Newsletters to the E-News, which will occur in August 2017.  In the period of transition from Jan through Aug 2017, Tess M.S. Neal, AP-LS Member-at-Large, is creating and sending the E-News.


We elected four new members to the Executive Committee (EC) of AP-LS, who will take office after the August EC meeting in Washington D.C.  They include:

President-Elect: Kevin Douglas

Secretary: Lora Levett

Member-at-Large: Brian Bornstein**

Division Representative to APA Council: Jason Cantone.

Thanks to all of the candidates who agreed to be nominated this year.  We couldn't function as an effective organization without the willingness of our members to run for and serve in office.  Congratulations to Kevin, Lora, Brian, and Jason.

**Brian recently took a position at NSF and cannot serve.  The EC is working to replace him.


A yearly analysis of the impact factors of psychology-law journals shows that the mean Social Science Citation Index (SSCI) impact from our field’s journals has risen by nearly 30%--from 1.13 in 2016 to 1.46 in 2017. This outpaced the psychology field as a whole, whose median journal impact rose by 5% from 1.54 to 1.62. However, a law-journal-focused database (based on Westlaw citations) shows a slight decrease in impact, from 0.25 in 2016 to 0.22 in 2017. Nevertheless, several of our journals (including both Law and Human Behavior and  Psychology, Public Policy and Law) continue to have well above-average impact in both the legal and social science literatures. The full 2017 list can be found here


Recent changes for  Law and Human Behavior, the official journal of AP-LS, were announced in the PDF newsletter.  These changes include newly-requested public significance statements, open science badges, and a new editor starting in 2018: Bradley McAuliff of California State University-Northridge.  

In addition, the impact factor (IF) increased to 2.822 (5-year IF 2.919). And the journal is ranked highly among law journals: 7 out of 147.


The AP-LS Student Committee is pleased to announce a joint initiative with the Minority Affairs Committee intended to increase the visibility of undergraduate and graduate minority students who have contributed to the intersection of psychology and law. We are seeking submissions from minority student affiliates of AP-LS with recent contributions to the field, including conference presentations, publications, facilitation of workshops or seminars, or similar achievements. See here for the call for submissions. Please direct any questions to the AP-LS Student Committee.


The AP-LS Continuing Education (CE) Committee is accepting proposals for pre-conference workshops at the AP-LS Annual Conference. These workshops will take place on Wed March 7, 2018 in Memphis, TN. The CE Committee is particularly interested in interactive workshops  covering innovative and cutting-edge topics that engage participants in translating psychology and law research into practice. Workshop  presenters will receive an honorarium commensurate with the workshop length (i.e., half day or full day). Proposals are due August 1, 2017 and can be submitted at this link. Contact Amanda Zelechoski with any questions.

We look forward to receiving your pre-conference workshop proposals!

-The AP-LS Continuing Education Committee


Apr - Jun 2017 Update

Part of 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. This is the second installment of the series. 

In the Courtroom

SCOTUS Update: Death Penalty and Intellectual Disability

The U.S. Supreme Court issued a big decision addressing the death penalty for individuals with intellectual disabilities. The Court held that Texas’s use of an obsolete medical standard to determine whether a defendant has an intellectual disability (and thus is barred from receiving a death penalty sentence) was unconstitutional. States be warned! Current medical standards must be used to define intellectual disability in death penalty cases.

In other death penalty news, Arkansas executed two inmates in one day – a first for any state since 2000 – in a push to carry out capital punishments before the expiration of its lethal injection drug.

Mental Health Experts: Neutral Party or Consultant? 

Should a mental health expert be a neutral party or an advocate? The Supreme Court issued a ruling that a criminal defendant with mental illness in a capital case is entitled to an independent expert (who would help advocate for the defendant) over an impartial expert appointed by the court (who would remain a neutral party). The Court ultimately held that the defendant’s constitutional rights were violated because his court-appointed expert did not assist the defense counsel with strategically evaluating, preparing, and presenting the case. Some may find this ruling to be a way of ensuring fairness for criminal defendants with mental illness, while others may see this as an inappropriate blurring of the lines between a psychological evaluation and trial consulting.

Spotlight on Juvenile Justice

In case you need a refresher on juvenile justice, a recent article by Dr. Lawrence Steinberg outlined the impact of developmental and neurobiological research on recent judicial decisions. The article also summarizes policy implications and helpful suggestions for the future. If you’re interested in reading more on this topic, this article by Dr. Kirk Heilbrun and colleagues reviewed promising practices for justice-involved youth and discussed the application of the Sequential Intercept Model to the juvenile justice system. 

Jury Instructions: A Fine Line Between Accessible and Too-Simple

A recent article by Baguley and colleagues examined the impact of simplifying jury instructions. The researchers found that jurors responded well to the simplification of conceptual information. However, an oversimplification of the language and the amount of information provided in jury instructions tended to result in more punitive verdicts. 

In the Legislature

New Sexting Policy May Impact Many Teens

The U.S. House of Representatives recentlypassed a bill by an overwhelming majority that imposed harsh sentences for young adults who engage in sexting, and this bill is expected to pass in the Senate. If this law is passed, teens who consensually exchange explicit photos or videos with one another could be sentenced to up to 15 years in prison.  Such a law would have the potential to impact thousands of teens -research suggests that over 50% of college students have exchanged explicit texts as minors. See the full bill here

In the Community

Interrogation or Torture? Psychologists Sued for Developing Interrogation Program

Two psychologists who helped design a controversial interrogation program are being sued by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of former C.I.A. detainees. The interrogation program included “enhanced interrogation techniques” that are widely viewed as torture. This lawsuit can be considered in light of the recent release of the controversial Hoffman Report and the American Psychological Association prohibition against members’ involvement in national security interrogations.

Speaking of national security… A new project that sought to investigate the mindset of terrorists could have implications for understanding and preventing terrorism. Researchers found that terrorists exhibited an “abnormal pattern of moral judgment” and focus more on the outcomes of behavior, rather than underlying intentions. See the full study here.


Police and the Community

A major new study that involved the first systematic examination of police body camera footage revealed a disparity in the way police officers talk to community members. According to the researchers, police use less respectful language when talking to black community members than when talking to white community members. See the full study here.

Chicago law enforcement is using a new algorithm to reduce crime. This algorithm uses actuarial data to attempt to predict who is most likely to be involved in a shooting, and compiles the data into a “Strategic Subject List.” Read more about this controversial method here.

The Importance of Parental Involvement

A recent longitudinal study by Dr. Caitlin Cavanagh and colleagues found that mothers with limited knowledge about the legal system are less involved in their sons’ legal issues when compared to mothers with greater knowledge. This lower parental involvement was shown to relate to higher self-reported recidivism in the year following the youth’s first arrest. 

Technological Advancements

A recently published tool was created to aggregate all publicly available criminal justice data across states with the goal of highlighting systematic injustices and sparking conversation among researchers, policy-makers, and society more broadly. Click here for a background of the site’s development, and here for the actual site.

Life After Life Without Parole

On a personal note, read one man's experience about his return to the community when the law that sentenced him to a mandatory sentence of life without parole was amended, and he was unexpectedly released. This particular anecdote is important to keep in mind following the Miller and Montgomery decisions, as we expect an influx of LWOP offenders back into the community.

Media Round Up

A newly published book explores the impact of our current mental health system on individuals within it, and provides anecdotes, empirical research, and hypotheses about why so many Americans with severe mental illness experience negative outcomes such as incarceration, homelessness, and limited access to treatment.

For podcast-listeners, two new podcasts explore life behind prison walls.  Written Inside, by NPR, and Ear Hustle, a collaboration between a San Francisco artist and two inmates of San Quentin Prison (background info here). 

Final Thoughts

A new initiative in NYC is giving repeat low-level offenders city-subsidized housing in an effort to decrease recidivism.

Until October!

If you have questions, or see or read something that you would like included in future updates, please contact us! Alice Thornewill  & Shelby Arnold.


Monica Miller and Twila Wingrove have worked hard to prepare Division 41's program for the upcoming 125th Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association.  The convention will take place in Washington, DC from August 3-6, 2017.  

Everyone is invited to attend the Division 41 social hour on Thursday evening and the business meeting beforehand. Several of our AP-LS committees and affiliates are sponsoring special sessions, including the American Academy of Forensic Psychology and the AP-LS Student Committee. In addition, this year we are especially excited to offer programming addressing sexual violence on campus (Sexual Violence on Campus: Changing dialogue, changing culture), addiction (Re-humanizing Addiction through Education, Policy, and Practice), and the relationship between criminal justice and gender (The Justice System’s Response to Women: The Influence of Socioeconomic Status, Gender, and Race).  For more detailed highlights, see pages 40-43 of the newsletter here. 


Check out AP-LS's Job Postings page for up-to-date information on available psychology-law positions here.  

Note that new positions are available.

Membership Services

        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.