Feature article

Reflecting Back and Looking Ahead

A message from Dave DeMatteo.

By David S. DeMatteo, JD, PhD

As we enter a new year, it's a fitting time to look ahead to the many exciting opportunities and developments that await our division in 2017. But before doing so, it's important to reflect upon the many accomplishments of our division over the past year. In 2016, we had a successful annual convention in Atlanta and an outstanding conference program at the APA Annual Convention in Denver. The AP-LS annual conference and the Div. 41 program at the convention were full of high-quality, informative and timely presentations that cut across many areas of psychology and law. During 2016, we also undertook a comprehensive bylaws revision, assisted in the re-certification of forensic psychology as an APA-recognized specialty area in professional psychology, enhanced our division website, and staffed our committees with many members who had not previously been involved in AP-LS governance.

My presidential initiative, which is focused on enhancing the “L” in AP-LS, is also taking shape. Three developments are worth noting. First, I'm currently putting together a presidential task force of scholars, practitioners and students – both from inside and outside of AP-LS – who can offer suggestions on how to promote the “L” aspect of AP-LS. Second, in an effort to attract more law students to our annual conference, we are providing four scholarships of $500 each to law students with a demonstrated interest in law-psychology research or practice. Third, the upcoming annual conference has a more enhanced focus on legally relevant topics, with many sessions offering continuing education and continuing legal education credits.

As we look ahead to 2017, we eagerly anticipate our next annual conference, which will be held in Seattle from March 16-18. The conference co-chairs, Kathleen Kemp and Derek Hess, with administrative support from Kathy Gaskey, have put together an outstanding conference program. More detail on the annual conference can be found elsewhere in this newsletter and on the AP-LS conference website, so I'll just mention a few highlights. We have three outstanding plenary sessions: Charles Ramsey (former Philadelphia police commissioner and co-chair of President Obama's Task Force on 21st Century Policing), Adam Foss (co-founder and president of Prosecutor Integrity), and the defense team from the Netflix documentary series “Making a Murderer.” Thanks to the Continuing Education Committee, chaired by Amanda Zelechoski, we have a number of half-day and full-day pre-conference workshops. The full-day workshops include sessions on the intersection of forensic psychology and U.S. immigration policies (Claudia Antuna, Philip Gibson, Leonora Cabrera and Chris Strawn) and developments on risk assessment and risk reduction (Kirk Heilbrun). The half-day workshops include sessions on the ABA's criminal justice mental health standards (Chris Slobogin), reducing bias in forensic evaluations (Dan Murrie and Tess Neal), sentencing proceedings per Miller v. Alabama (Susan Knight, Zoe Jones and Laura Young), and developing a private practice in forensic psychology (Virginia Barber-Rioja, Jessica Pearson and Chriscelyn Tussey). 

I look forward to seeing you in March.

- Dave DeMatteo