16 Psychological Assessment in Correctional Settings

Assessment Psychology


  1. Edwin I. Megargee PhD

Published Online: 26 SEP 2012

DOI: 10.1002/9781118133880.hop210016

Handbook of Psychology, Second Edition

Handbook of Psychology, Second Edition

How to Cite

Megargee, E. I. 2012. Psychological Assessment in Correctional Settings. Handbook of Psychology, Second Edition. 10:II:16.

Author Information

  1. Florida State University, Department of Psychology, Tallahassee, Florida, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 26 SEP 2012


In this chapter, I describe and discuss psychological assessment in adult correctional settings. In Part One, I describe the screening assessments and evaluations mandated by professional organizations and credentialing bodies at various stages in correctional processing, emphasizing those required in jails and prisons. Space does not permit a description or evaluation of the many instruments utilized in these settings. Instead, I focus on those that are most widely used and highly regarded. For mental health screening and personality assessment, I describe the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory-2 (MMPI-2) and the Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory-III (MCMI-III). For intellectual and cognitive screening, I focus on two nonverbal tests specifically marketed for use in prisons, the Beta III and the General Ability Measure for Adults (GAMA); for a more thorough appraisal of intellectual ability and functioning, I discuss the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale, Fourth Edition (WAIS-IV). Finally, for assessing educational attainment, I describe the Test of Adult Basic Education (TABE).

In Part Two, I turn to developments and issues in assessment specifically designed for correctional management and treatment. In a recent meta-review, Singh and Fazel (2010) counted no less than 126 measures that have been used for risk and needs assessment. I describe six: the Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R); the Violence Risk Appraisal Guide (VRAG); the Historical, Clinical, Risk Management (HCR) 20; the Level of Service Inventory-Revised (LSI-R); the Level of Service/Case Management Inventory (LS/CMI); and the Correctional Offender Management Profiling for Alternative Sanctions (COMPAS) instrument.


  • correctional institutions;
  • intelligence testing;
  • prisoners;
  • psychological assessment;
  • risk assessment