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Values in Forensic and Correctional Psychology

NCJ Number
Aggression and Violent Behavior Volume: 14 Issue: 4 Dated: July/August 2009 Pages: 232-238
Andrew Day; Sharon Casey
Date Published
July 2009
7 pages
This article discusses the relevance of values in forensic and correctional psychology, with a focus on their implications for rehabilitation.
The authors first define "values" as consisting of "concepts or beliefs about desirable end states or behaviors that transcend specific situations, guide the selection or evaluation of behavior and events, and are ordered by relative importance" (Schwartz and Bilsky, 1987). The article then considers the relationship between values and behavior, particularly antisocial behavior, and the way in which offending can be understood in relation to values and how these impact upon the therapeutic process. The authors argue that changing values of an offender is an important part of the process of changing antisocial behavior. When personal values radically conflict with social and legal norms, behavior labeled antisocial and criminal emerges, because such behavior leads to the violation of the human rights of other members of the community. Working effectively with offenders on changing their values for their benefit and the benefit of the larger society requires a strong commitment to ethical practice. The practitioner has an obligation to respect the client's right to dignity and autonomy, while simultaneously challenging values that are antisocial. If offenders are asked to account for the values that they hold, then it should be expected that rehabilitation providers' values are at issue as well. The values held by the forensic psychologist become part of the rehabilitative encounter, so it is legitimate for offenders to challenge these values or seek to understand them better. The aim is to reach agreement on the circumstances or conditions under which the right to choose how to live one's life should be restricted. 1 table and 84 references