Ira K. Packer, PhD and Gina Vincent, PhD are the new Co-Directors of the University of Massachusetts Medical School’s Law and Psychiatry Program. Dr. Packer will have primary responsibility for the training and clinical services components, and Dr. Vincent will have primary responsibility for the research component. Ira and Gina transitioned to these new leadership roles in July when Thomas Grisso, Ph.D. retired from UMMS. Tom had served as Director of the Law and Psychiatry Program from 2006 to 2014, and he will continue to contribute to the Program in his new status as a Professor Emeritus.
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.
The primary focus of the Law and Psychiatry Program is on public sector services. However, the program also provides services in the private sector on issues related to mental health and legal matters, such as psychiatric disability evaluations. Law and Psychiatry faculty also provide consultation on violence risk assessment and management to private psychiatric hospitals, outpatient clinics, and justice agencies. The Law and Psychiatry program has a very active research arm, which is managed through the UMMS Department of Psychiatry's Systems & Psychosocial Advances Research Center (SPARC) and includes research in areas of adolescent drug abuse, implementation of mental health screening and risk assessment in juvenile justice, juvenile competence to stand trial, and areas of justice reform.