Division 18 Criminal Justice Section awards

We introduce the winners of the four Criminal Justice Section awards.

By Tess M.S. Neal, PhD

The competition was tough again this year for the Criminal Justice Section Awards. We were pleased to present the awards at the APA convention in August. Awards were presented the following recipients:

Outstanding Clinician

Dr. Tamara Russell, a psychologist at the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla, WA, took home the Outstanding Clinician award. Dr. Russell is a Psychologist IV and Mental Health Lead, and she is the Clinical Director of the Residential Treatment Unit for close-custody mentally ill offenders. She was awarded for her innovative programs and work with seriously mentally ill prisoners to help them better cope with life behind bars.

Dr. Russell and her staff developed 26 educational, social, and leisure skill groups for mentally ill prisoners. One of these programs is a kitten foster program, “Kittens in the Klink,” in which offenders are paired with orphaned kittens to provide temporary care until they are old enough to go to the local human society for adoption. Other skill groups include a gardening program, daily walking program, reading and math tutors for GED preparation, and a victim impact group. Data suggest medication compliance and readiness-to-change scores have increased among Dr. Russell's clients since she started the programming.

Early Career Achievement Award

Dr. Lauren Lussier was awarded with the Early Career Achievement Award this year. She was awarded for her excellence in practice and service for under-served populations, as well as her dedicated service to Division 18. The four nomination letters describe her as an “exceptional” psychologist who has already had a productive and promising early career and who promises to be a leader in the field for years to come. For instance, she just chaired the planning committee for the Division 18 Fall Conference, a conference that was well-organized and well-received.

Dr. Lussier completed her internship at Yale University School of Medicine and her postdoctoral fellowship at the Bedford VA Hospital in MA and has since been working as a forensic psychologist at Bridgewater State Hospital in MA. She has published peer-reviewed journal articles on the presence of counsel in competency evaluations, as well as demographic differences (e.g., race, gender) in people diverted into substance abuse treatment.

Outstanding Dissertation Award

Stephanie Brooks Holliday was awarded with the Outstanding Dissertation Award for her dissertation, “Self-Reported and LS/CMI Measured Risk Factors: Relation to RNR Adherence and Criminal Recidivism.” Dr. Holliday completed her graduate work at Drexel University with Kirk Heilbrun. She just finished her internship at the Washington DC Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

Dr. Heilbrun described Dr. Holliday's dissertation in the following way, “[It] involved the construction of a measure that will bridge the gap between empirically-supported measurement of offender risk/needs, and the interventions that have been developed to address these needs. By measuring how offenders perceive their own risk and needs, she has developed a very promising way of individualizing the relevant interventions and increasing the motivation of individuals in responding to them….Parts of her dissertation have already been accepted for publication in Criminal Justice and Behavior and in Behavioral Sciences and the Law .”

Outstanding Student Award

Brianne Layden just finished her 3 rd year of graduate school as part of Alex Chapman's Personality and Emotion Research Laboratory at Simon Frasier University in Vancouver, Canada. Ms. Layden was awarded the Outstanding Student Award for her high-quality and extensive research and clinical work with criminal justice populations, including her special interest in working with patients with borderline personality disorder. For her MA thesis, she examined predictors of violence toward others among individuals who engage in non-suicidal self-injury. For her dissertation, she is developing a structured professional judgment tool to assess suicide risk in forensic settings.

Ms. Layden has received two major scholarship awards (a Canadian Institutes of Health Research, or CIHR, MA scholarship for $17,500, and a second CIHR PhD scholarship for $105,000). She has also received other fellowships and scholarships in recognition of her outstanding work. In addition, she has been quite productive with research, with 28 conference presentations and 4-peer-reviewed publications at this early stage in her career.

These outstanding CJ Section members clearly deserve these awards. Please join us in congratulating them for their excellent work.

Tess M.S. Neal, PhD
Awards Committee Co-Chair