Developing and Starting a Group within a Forensic Population

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The committee that will be formed is a team of mental disease professionals from the New Jersey Metropolitan Area. Because the area has a high concentration of physiologists with various interests in the field of psychology, assembling a team to support a shared objective would be perfect, especially given the enormous pool of talent available. The group is planned to comprise between 10 and 30 members with interests in mental psychology and a narrower area of forensics where people with mental disorders have a history of committing crimes. Psychologists working for the criminals with mental issues or with related conditions are targeted. Psychologists dealing with criminal in New Jersey area have had difficulty in understanding the criminals and their motivation behind engaging in crimes. A group to further understand this phenomenon needs to be established. The group of between 15 and 30 professionals in counselling inmates and pardoned criminals is scheduled to be formed to ensure

Rational For group Development

The basis for developing the Peer Psychologists Support Group is to enhance counselling services and other support programs to the inmates and staff handling mentally-ill criminals in the Jersey area. The crime rates have kept increasing although not significantly fast but almost maintained the crime rates. Statistic by James S. Friedman (2016) indicated that around 10% of jail and prison mates responded to emotional or mental condition with 10% extra agreeing that they had spent a night in a mental hospital or a psychological program. In addition, over 283,800 inmates agreed to having a mental condition or having spent a night in a mental hospital (Eck & Weisburd, 2015).

The crime rates in New Jersey are high with the two leading crimes being violent and property crimes. The crimes are perpetuated by people who seemingly have some mental conditions. The violent crime rates in 2016 were 2.55 crimes per 1000 residents and 18.82 crimes per 1000 residents for property crimes. This indicates that property crimes were leading other crimes like aggravated assaults, arson, burglary, motor vehicle theft and larceny and theft among others (Fernandes, & Woodley, 2013).

The rationale for forming this psychologists-related group is to see the reasons who most inmates with mental conditions end up in jail or prison after their first jail term ends. New Jersey has had over 3,000 inmates who have ever reported a case of mental issue (Kalesan et al., 2014). Further statistics indicate that female inmates experienced higher rates of mental health problems with data showing that 73% of females compared to 55% of males in state prisons, including the state of New Jersey, and 61% of female prisoners compared to 44% male inmates across the federal prisons. Cornish and Clarke (Eds.) (2014) indicated that repeat criminals were associated with psychological and mental conditions that were related to the family, drug addictions, emotional status of the criminal and the inadequacy of the social-support groups (Monuteaux et al., 2015). In the recent past, there has been introduction of counselling in jails and prisons to help them avoid repeat crimes. One in six local/county inmates had mental health problems and there was need to focus on providing counselling and specialized support groups to the criminals to help reduce further crimes. Studies by Mauer & Ghandnoosh, (2014) indicate that there is strong correlation between mental illnesses/conditions and involvement in criminal activities. The same authors also argue that providing strong base for counselling, strong support groups and dedicated teams to monitor the pardoned inmates is recommended for ensuring significant reduction of crimes in New Jersey (Gaquin, & Ryan, 2015). Another rationale behind the establishment of the group is to provide continued research into the activities of the pardoned inmates and what motivates them into repeat crimes.

Objectives of the group

The objectives of the psychologists group is to;

To understand the motivating factors behind repeat criminals engaging in offenses

To provide a rationale for ensuring the New Jersey state’s inmates get adequate counselling and mental treatment

To propose modules on handling emotional, social and mental conditions of repeat criminals in NJ state prisons and jails

To share information on latest developments on psychological conditions related to handling mental and emotional distress among the higher risky populations of inmates

To periodically monitor the condition of state jail and prison counselling programs

Selection and screening procedure

The groups would be selected based on their willingness to join as well as their educational qualifications and experience on the psychology field. The members have to meet the following criteria;

Be psychologists within the greater New York- New Jersey Metropolitan area,

The education and experience of the participant

Some workers within the Criminal Judiciary System who have experience in psychology

The available resources for the group, since a target of between 15-30 would require logistics and associated organizing resources

The nature of the participants based on their preferences, characteristics and needs in the group (a form will be given for potential group members to fill indicating their motives)

There will be a set membership fee to cater for logistics and also as a sign of commitment towards the group activities

Practical Considerations

The group members of the group would include professionals and other parties interested. The members would form the body of the group with few selected/or invited associate members who have an interest in either psychology of the inmates or the counselling program at the NJ state prison. The group members would also agree to select the following interim members;

Chairman of the group

Secretary to the group

Treasurer to handle the finances

Organizing secretary to plan for events

County representatives within the counties of New Jersey

Chief researcher to provide for collection/analyzing and sharing of information

The group and the elected officials would agree on how to organize for meetings and the frequency of meetings. The following can be agreed on;

That the meetings would held once a month, particularly on the send weekend of the month

The meeting would take approximately three hours

Aspects like place of meeting, a select hotel or conference facility

The setting of the meetings will be formal with updates on the identified topics, updates from research and suggestions on how to handle the issues

The members would also be required to read wide and share their practice during the meeting to update and bring on the same level their experiences handling criminals with mental problems

Group Rules

The group rules in an organization enable order and flow of events with uniform and organized decision making (Paulus, 2015). The suggested rules for the group include the following,

Members should communicate on their position on forthcoming meeting within 48 hours’ time before starting

No member holds a senior membership than any other apart from being an elected official (this is meant to promote professionalism)

There should be order at the meetings with an appointed person to ensure smooth flow of meetings and member’s contributions

Members can join and leave at will. Leaving the organization will require written letter and retuning of the organization’s identity card

Members have each one vote to participate in an internal election to make decisions should the approach be an election

All member have to contribute and take turns to contribute or orderly debate a topic.

Members are encouraged to challenge critics of others with all ideas justified by facts/evidence from previous research

Group Outline and Structure

The group should focus on establishing the working routine and the number of sessions per meeting. In this case, the meetings will be scheduled for three hours with four sessions each given 45 minutes. The following would be suggested sessions for the group:

First session would be about introductions (10 minutes), members introduce and state their interests in the groups and relationship with their fields of professionalism

A briefing session (10 minutes) of the previous minutes and the agreed agenda

The other sessions would be classical presentations (45 minutes) where previously selected committees of 3 members/scholars would present a report based on given topic on the psychology and criminal justice system

The interaction session (30 minutes) where snacks and beverages would be served as members get to know each other more. At this point, the chairman would arrange the members into groups of three or four to facilitate discussions with possible presentations of topics given.

Discussion session (45 minutes) that would discuss the present condition of the inmates in terms of their mental conditions, the solutions towards addressing the challenges and the way forward to ensure successful implementation of the counselling programs at the jails and prisons.

As long as the group activities are concerned, there would be generalizations on the action of members in relation to achieving the group objectives and ensuring there are measurable outcomes in a defined period of six months and over (Dorrough et al., 2016).

Ethical and Legal Considerations

The ethical and legal consideration of the group include possibility of having respect and order during the meetings, permissions to conduct research in the institutions, and the handling the inmates (Durkheim, 2014).

The issue of counselling inmates calls for sharing of personal and confidential information that should not be divulged. The challenge would be dealt with through following the laid down legal practices concerned with the inmates and psychological guidance.

Evaluation Procedure

The group should be evaluated frequently on the progress of its achieving of the desired objectives. For instance, answers to questions like were the discussions productive, and were there permanent solutions achieved among other questions. It is suggested that the group would;

Fill forms at the end of meeting to air what they think should be corrected, State their expectations in the next meeting and State their achievements at the end of the group meeting

After one month, there should a self-assessment form given to members to indicate the success of the group activities and their satisfaction within the group

After three months after initiating the jail/prison counselling programs, there should be monitoring of repeat crimes with clear data on any occurrences

It is recommended that outcomes like reduced crime rates, reduced repeat crimes a responsible ex-convicts should be taken as indicators to show positive outcomes of the group.


The group limitations my include;

Challenges in distances and work-related roles,

Personal differences among the members can compromise the unity of the group

Limited time for research on the given topics about psychology and criminal justice system

Infighting and scramble for positions within the group

Transparency issues in handling the finances


Cornish, D. B., & Clarke, R. V. (Eds.). (2014). The reasoning criminal: Rational choice perspectives on offending. Transaction Publishers.

Dorrough, A. R., Leszczyńska, M., Barreto, M., & Glöckner, A. (2016). Revealing side effects of quota rules on group cooperation. Journal of Economic Psychology, 57, 136-152.

Durkheim, E. (2014). The rules of sociological method: and selected texts on sociology and its method. Simon and Schuster.

Eck, J. E., & Weisburd, D. L. (2015). Crime places in crime theory.

Fernandes, H. B., & Woodley, M. A. (2013). Strategic differentiation and integration among the 50 states of the USA. Personality and Individual Differences, 55(8), 1000-1002.

Gaquin, D. A., & Ryan, M. M. (Eds.). (2015). County and City Extra 2015: Annual Metro, City, and County Data Book. Bernan Press.

Kalesan, B., Vasan, S., Mobily, M. E., Villarreal, M. D., Hlavacek, P., Teperman, S., ... & Galea, S. (2014). State-specific, racial and ethnic heterogeneity in trends of firearm-related fatality rates in the USA from 2000 to 2010. BMJ open, 4(9), e005628.

Mauer, M., & Ghandnoosh, N. (2014). Fewer prisoners, less crime: A tale of three states. Policy Brief, The Sentencing Project.

Monuteaux, M. C., Lee, L. K., Hemenway, D., Mannix, R., & Fleegler, E. W. (2015). Firearm ownership and violent crime in the US: an ecologic study. American journal of preventive medicine, 49(2), 207-214.

Paulus, P. B. (Ed.). (2015). Psychology of group influence (Vol. 22). Psychology Press.

April 19, 2023

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