Cultural considerations in the criminal law: The sentencing process

James K. Boehnlein, Michele N. Schaefer, Joseph D. Bloom

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


In forensic psychiatry, there is increasing recognition of the importance of culture and ethnicity in the criminal justice process as the population becomes more culturally diverse. However, there has been little consideration of the role of cultural factors in the trial process for criminal defendants, particularly in the sentencing phase of trial. Using a capital murder case study, this article explores the role of cultural forensic psychiatric consultation, focusing on the sentencing phase of trial as the place where the full scope and power of a cultural evaluation can be brought most effectively to the attention of the court. Cultural psychiatric perspectives can enrich a core forensic evaluation and be maximally helpful to the court, by exploring family dynamics and psychological health influenced by cultural history, immigrant and refugee experiences, and sociocultural environment. Specific recommendations and cautions for effective cultural consultation in forensic psychiatry are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)335-341
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2005
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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