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Assessment of Intellectual Disability

Assessment of Intellectual Disability

Assessment of Intellectual Disability

Read case 1. And answer the following questions.

Case 1. Assessment of Intellectual Disability and Capital Punishment:

A Question of Human Rights? Assessment of Intellectual Disability

The prosecution hired Dr. Eduardo Romaro, a professionally trained forensic psychologist, to assess John Stone’s (a 50-year-old man convicted of first-degree murder of a guard during a bank heist) mental capacity. Throughout the trial, John maintained his innocence. The death penalty is an option for anyone found guilty in the state where the trial took place. The defense attorney for John argued that his client should not face the death penalty since he had intellectual disabilities.

In Atkins v. Virginia (2002), the Supreme Court of the United States declared that it is unlawful to execute people who have intellectual disability, sometimes known as mental retardation. It was not the first time Dr. Romaro had worked with the prosecution, but it was the first time he had been engaged for a death penalty case. He has mixed feelings regarding whether or not individual states should have the death sentence. Assessment of Intellectual Disability

Evaluation of Mental Retardation

The psychologist will meet with John in a secure area of the prison and use a battery of tests designed to measure John’s intelligence and adaptive behavior that have been shown to have high levels of psychometric validity in the context of legal proceedings. John becomes upset and looks to be having an anxiety attack right as he concludes the formal exam administration.

The psychologist overhears the inmate, who is in despair, begging God for forgiveness for killing the guard and “the boy waiting for the bus.” The psychologist immediately goes into crisis intervention mode in an effort to calm the defendant and calls for back-up. Astounded, Dr. Romaro heard John “confess” to both the bank murder and the death of a “boy waiting for a bus.”

Intellectual disability (currently referred to as “mental retardation developmental disability”) is defined as significantly below-average intellectual functioning, impairments in adaptive functioning, and onset before the age of 18 according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV-TR). Similarly, a demonstrated pattern of intellectual impairment throughout development is required to meet the state’s definition of intellectual disability. Ahead of the Tests, Attachment B:345

Dr. Romaro had already contacted the prosecutor in an effort to obtain John’s complete academic and mental health records from his formative years. The materials he received did not include any standardized tests or psychological assessments. John’s school records revealed that he had a bad academic history, was suspended multiple times for showing up to class under the influence of alcohol, and dropped out of school at the age of 15. Low intelligence (defined as an IQ below 70) and lack of adaptive abilities are two more state requirements. Assessment of Intellectual Disability

The following evening, Dr. Romaro calculates the test results. John has an IQ of 71, and his scores on a variety of cognitive tests were either at or near the threshold for intellectual disability. His level of adaptive functioning is significantly lower than average. Without a fuller picture of the inmate’s early life, it’s hard to say whether or not he has an intellectual handicap according to the DSM-IV-TR or state law given his advanced age. Dr. Romaro was not tasked with evaluating potential cognitive and adaptive functioning impairments due to mood, schizophrenia, or other psychotic diseases. Assessment of Intellectual Disability

Moral Conundrum

When asked for his forensic opinion on whether or not John satisfies the legal definition of intellectual disability, Dr. Romaro hesitates. A diagnosis of intellectual disability might not be conceivable without proof of intellectual disability in John’s youth; without such a diagnosis, an appeal from John’s death sentence might be doomed. He also wonders if it’s ethically sound to include John’s “confession” and his statement about the “boy waiting for a bus” in his report. Assessment of Intellectual Disability

Respond to the following questions in 1,250 to 1,500 words.

1. Why is this an ethical dilemma? Which APA Ethical Principles help frame the nature of the dilemma?

2. How might Dr. Romaro’s ambivalence toward the death penalty influence his decision to offer a forensic diagnosis of intellectual disability? How might John’s “confession” or his comment about the “boy waiting for the bus” influence the decision? To what extent should these factors play a role in Dr. Romaro’s report?

3. How are APA Ethical Standards 2.0f, 3.06, 4.04, 4.05, 5.01, 9.01a and 9.06 relevant to this case? Which other standards might apply?

4. What steps should Dr. Romaro take to ethically implement his decision and monitor its effect?