Assignment: Assess a death row inmate’s mental state

Assignment: Assess a death row inmate’s mental state

Assignment: Assess a death row inmate’s mental state

There are two related questions to address in this week’s discussion.

What would you do if you were asked to assess a death row inmate’s mental state, in order to deliver an opinion on competency to be executed? Do you believe you can and should perform an objective assessment? What would you do if it were a requirement of your job?


What would you do if you were asked by the defense to evaluate someone prior to a capital sentencing hearing? You would be asked to identify possible mitigating factors. Would you be able to provide an unbiased assessment? What would you do if the sentencing hearing was in 2 days, and the defense attorneys are rushing you, and there is no time for them to find another psychologist? How about if you could not uncover any mitigating factors

You must proofread your paper. But do not strictly rely on your computer’s spell-checker and grammar-checker; failure to do so indicates a lack of effort on your part and you can expect your grade to suffer accordingly. Papers with numerous misspelled words and grammatical mistakes will be penalized. Read over your paper – in silence and then aloud – before handing it in and make corrections as necessary. Often it is advantageous to have a friend proofread your paper for obvious errors. Handwritten corrections are preferable to uncorrected mistakes.

Use a standard 10 to 12 point (10 to 12 characters per inch) typeface. Smaller or compressed type and papers with small margins or single-spacing are hard to read. It is better to let your essay run over the recommended number of pages than to try to compress it into fewer pages.

Likewise, large type, large margins, large indentations, triple-spacing, increased leading (space between lines), increased kerning (space between letters), and any other such attempts at “padding” to increase the length of a paper are unacceptable, wasteful of trees, and will not fool your professor.

The paper must be neatly formatted, double-spaced with a one-inch margin on the top, bottom, and sides of each page. When submitting hard copy, be sure to use white paper and print out using dark ink. If it is hard to read your essay, it will also be hard to follow your argument.

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