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The PCL-R and capital sentencing: a commentary on “Death is Different"

Hare, Robert D., Olver, Mark, Stockdale, Keira C., Neumann, Craig S., Mokros, Andreas, Baskin-Sommers, Arielle, Brand, Eddy, Folino, Jorge, Gacono, Carl, Gray, Nicola, Khiel, Kent, Knight, Raymond, Leon-Mayer, Elizabeth, Logan, Matthew, Meloy, J. Reid, Roy, Sandeep, Salekin, Randall, Snowden, Robert ORCID:, Thomson, Nicholas, Tillem, Scott, Vitacco, Michael and Yoon, Dahlnym 2020. The PCL-R and capital sentencing: a commentary on “Death is Different". Psychology, Public Policy, and Law 26 (4) , pp. 519-522. 10.1037/law0000290

[thumbnail of R3 Response to DeMatteo 2020b Sept 24.pdf]
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DeMatteo et al. (2020a) published a Statement in this journal declaring that the Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R) “cannot and should not” be used in U.S. capital-sentencing cases to assess risk for serious institutional violence. Their stated concerns were the PCL-R’s “imperfect interrater reliability,” its “variability in predictive validity,” and its prejudicial effects on the defendant. In a Cautionary Note, we (Olver et al., 2020) raised questions about the Statement’s evaluation of the PCL-R’s psychometric properties, presented new data, including a meta-meta-analysis, and argued that the evidence did not support the Statement’s declaration that the PCL-R “cannot” be used in high stakes contexts. In their reply, titled “Death is Different,” DeMatteo et al. (2020b) concurred with several points in our Cautionary Note, disputed others, asserted that we had misunderstood or mischaracterized their Statement, and dismissed our new data and comments as irrelevant to the Statement’s purpose. This perspective on our commentary is inimical to balanced academic discourse. In this article, we contend that DeMatteo et al. (2020b) underestimated the reliability and predictive validity of PCL-R ratings, overestimated the centrality of the PCL-R in sentencing decisions, and underplayed the importance of other factors. Most of their arguments depended on sources other than capital cases, including mock trials, Sexually Violent Predator (SVP) hearings, and studies that included the prediction of general violence. We conclude that the rationale for the bold “cannot and should not” decree is open to debate and in need of research in real-life venues.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Psychology
Publisher: American Psychological Association
ISSN: 1076-8971
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 7 October 2020
Date of Acceptance: 24 September 2020
Last Modified: 07 Nov 2023 22:45

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