Challenges in implementing the Atkins decision

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Denkowski, G.C., Denkowski, K.M., Misuse of the Street Survival Skills Questionnaire (SSSQ) for evaluating the adult adaptive behavior of criminal defendants ...

Challenges in implementing the Atkins decision Olley J.G. Department of Allied Health Sciences, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC, United States; Clinical Center for the Study of Development and Learning, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC, United States; Committee on Mental Retardation and the Death Penalty; Division 33, American Psychological Association; Center for Development and Learning, CB 7255, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7255, United States Abstract: The states' interpretation of the Atkins v. Virginia (1) decision has led to problems of implementation as noted by Widaman and Siperstein (2). In addition to the problems of subjective modification of adaptive behavior scores to reflect cultural differences, which these authors noted, expert witnesses have encountered many other challenges. Although definitions and clinical diagnostic criteria are nearly uniform, these criteria can be difficult to apply in Atkins cases. The problem of determining a diagnosis in childhood and at the time of the crime when many years have passed challenges the usefulness of some common clinical methods. The interpretation of intelligence test scores typically takes into account the standard error of measurement, and this source of error is greater in people with low IQ. Score interpretation is further complicated by the Flynn effect. Nevertheless, courts may interpret IQ scores rigidly. Adaptive behavior must be assessed based on knowledge of community functioning, which can be difficult to obtain for incarcerated individuals. Definitions of mental retardation overlap with definitions of other disorders, and dual diagnoses are common in people with mental retardation. Available methods of assessing malingering mental retardation lack adequate validity. A satisfactory process for the diagnosis of mental retardation cannot be assured until these problems are resolved. Copyright 2009 American Journal of Forensic Psychology. Year: 2009 Source title: American Journal of Forensic Psychology Volume: 27 Issue: 2 Page : 63-73 Link: Scorpus Link Document Type: Review Source: Scopus Authors with affiliations: 1. Olley, J.G., Department of Allied Health Sciences, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC, United States, Clinical Center for the Study of Development and Learning, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC, United States, Committee on Mental Retardation and the Death Penalty, Division 33, American Psychological Association, Center for Development and Learning, CB 7255, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7255, United States

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