The goal of the clinical portion of the fellowship is the development of skills related
to conducting high quality forensic mental health evaluations aimed at assisting the
court in reaching appropriate legal decisions. The fellowship program is designed
to provide the forensic fellow exposure to a wide variety of clinical-forensic evaluations
of varying complexities.
Keeping with recent trends in forensic psychology, there will be an emphasis placed
on learning structured methodologies for evaluating psycho-legal constructs. A prime
example are developments in competency to stand trial evaluations that involve the
use of structured interviews including but not limited to the Evaluation of Competency
to Stand-Trial Revised (ECST-R) and the MacArthur Competence Assessment Tool-Criminal
Adjudication (MacCAT-CA). Similar advancements have been made in evaluating violence
risk with actuarial instruments like the Violence Risk Appraisal Guide-Revised (VRAG-R)
and structured professional judgment guides like the Historical, Clinical, Risk 20
(HCR 20 V3). Structured evaluations of malingering are also a key component of the
training experience and the fellowship includes training on the Structured Interview
of Reported Symptoms-2, Miller Forensic Assessment of Symptoms Test, and the Inventory
of Legal Knowledge.
Inpatient Setting: ECRH is a Joint Commission Accredited state supported facility serving 22 counties
- The primary inpatient placement is an 8-month rotation on Forensic I, the most secure
unit in the hospital for male patients. On Forensic I, the forensic fellow will conduct
evaluations of competency to stand trial and criminal responsibility. In addition,
the fellow will be a member of the multidisciplinary treatment team that meets twice
weekly to evaluate treatment needs of patients housed on Forensic I. Fellows will
also have the option to conduct individual and/or group treatment.
- The fellow will complete a 4-month rotation on Forensic II. Forensic II is a secure
unit that houses male and female patients who are awaiting trial, who have been adjudicated
NGRI, or who are in their competency restoration period. In addition, the patients
on this unit have demonstrated a willingness to engage in treatment and appropriately
manage their behavior on Forensic I. On Forensic II, the fellow’s primary responsibilities
are the completion of violence risk assessments. In addition, the fellow will assist
with competency restoration efforts and conduct pretrial evaluations with female defendants.
As part of their forensic responsibilities, fellows will have opportunities to conduct
outpatient forensic evaluations at two types of sites throughout the course of the
- County Jails: The primary outpatient sites will be county jails located throughout
the catchment area. As part of their outpatient experiences fellows will accompany
one of their supervisors to jail where the focus will be entirely on competency to
stand trial and criminal responsibility. In cases where an individual is found not
competent to proceed to trial, the fellow will often have the opportunity to evaluate
the same individual after a period of competency restoration at ECRH. This process
allows the fellow an opportunity to observe the same individual over an extended period
in different environments. Additionally, fellows will observe the benefits of psychotropic
medication and competency restoration services.
- Outpatient Forensic Clinic: The Outpatient Evaluation Center, located on the campus
of ECRH, will be a secondary outpatient site. Individuals at the outpatient forensic
clinic are referred for competency to proceed to trial or criminal responsibility
evaluations. Some individuals are evaluated after being transported by the sheriff’s
department from a county jail, but many individuals arrive at the outpatient forensic
clinic on their own accord.
- Augusta University Department of Psychiatry and private practice: Faculty in the Department
of Psychiatry often are involved in various civil forensic evaluations. As available,
fellows will have the opportunity to assist in civil litigation pertaining to mental
health issues. Additional opportunities may be available to participate in fitness
for duty evaluations.
**There are opportunities to conduct clinical forensic evaluations with adolescents,
some who have been waived into adult court. These evaluations will primarily revolve
around competency to stand trial and include significant psychological testing.**