Welcome to the University of Arizona Forensic Psychiatry Fellowship. Forensic psychiatry is a subspecialty that focuses on the areas where psychiatry and the law interact. The most familiar of these interactions to the general public is the insanity plea. While evaluations for insanity in the criminal area of law is a part of forensic psychiatry, there are many other ways in which these two spheres interact. In criminal law, we are also asked to help in such things as determining whether a defendant has the capacity to proceed with his trial, to accept a plea bargain, or to make a confession. In civil law, we are asked about competence to make medical decisions or to sign a will among many other questions. Also, the specific criteria for these evaluations vary by state.
A fellowship in Forensic Psychiatry is a one year training program in which you will learn about the criteria for these evaluations, and the history and landmark cases which have helped to shape the way in which we can help to educate the courts in specific cases.
Treatment of people in correctional settings is also considered part of forensic psychiatry. Studies have shown that the rates of mental illness are much higher in correctional settings than in the population at large. These populations have needs which differ from the general population, and the psychiatrist’s role is also different than in a non-correctional setting.
The Forensic Psychiatry Fellowship at the University of Arizona is designed to give fellows the broad range of experiences and knowledge needed to practice and become board certified in forensic psychiatry. We are ACGME accredited, and accept 2 fellows per year. Fellows will spend time treating inmates at both the Pima County Adult Detention Complex and the Arizona State Prison Complex-Tucson. One day each week will also be dedicated to performing evaluations for commitment at the Banner University Medical Center South Campus, with frequent testimony regarding their opinions. Criminal and civil evaluations will be done with faculty on a wide variety of forensic questions. There is also one day per week devoted to lectures and research.
If you are interested in more information about our program and how to apply, please explore the additional sections of our website.
Melissa Spanggaard, DO, FAPA
Associate Professor of Psychiatry
Director, Forensic Psychiatry Fellowship Program