Law and Psychiatry Program


The Law and Psychiatry Program is an interdisciplinary collaboration of UMMS faculty devoted to research, training, and clinical services at the interfaces of the behavioral sciences, psychiatry, psychology, and the law. Begun in 1985 by Paul S. Appelbaum, M.D., who served as the first Director of the program, the Program has grown and expanded in scope over the past three decades. Thomas Grisso, Ph.D. served as Director from 2006-2014, and continues to contribute to the Program as a Professor Emeritus. Currently, the program is co-directed by Ira K. Packer, Ph.D. and Gina Vincent, Ph.D.  Dr. Packer maintains primary responsibility for the training and clinical services components, and Dr. Vincent maintains primary responsibility for the research component.

The Law and Psychiatry Program's primary training mission is to provide post-graduate preparation for service as forensic psychiatrists and forensic psychologists in the public sector on criminal, civil and juvenile matters. Research in the Program has sought to address a variety of questions that arise in the law concerning mental disabilities and capacities, adolescent development, and ways to assess human capacities and characteristics that are important for justice-related decisions. The Program's faculty provides clinical forensic services at the Worcester Recovery Center and Hospital (DMH), as well as consultation to private psychiatric hospitals, outpatient clinics, justice agencies, and attorneys.

The Massachusetts Trial Court has partnered with UMass Medical School to create a Center of Excellence for Specialty Courts (CoE) that will strengthen the state's ability to increase public safety while addressing issues of mental health, substance use, and trauma within the criminal justice system. The CoE is part of the Law and Psychiatry Program at UMMS, and includes: research and evaluation, training, legal research and support, marketing and outreach. A major goal of the CoE is to help standardize best practices for adult and juvenile specialty court sessions across the Commonwealth. More information about the CoE, Specialty Courts, and resources helpful to Specialty Courts, can be found at

Ira Packer Image Ira Packer, PhD, ABPP
Program Co-Director
Director, Forensic Psychology Residency
  Gina Vincent, PhD
Program Co-Director
Director Translational Law & Psychiatry Research
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