A test called the PCL-R, or Psychopathy Checklist-Revised, is designed to measure whether an inmate is a psychopath, says NPR. The test has incredible power in the criminal justice system. It’s used to make decisions such as what kind of sentence a criminal gets and whether an inmate is released on parole. It has been used to help decide whether someone should be put to death.
Many psychologists believe that psychopaths are so devoid of normal human emotion, so cold and remorseless and impulsive, that they are bound, almost by their very nature, to do harm and violence. NPR reports on Robert Dixon of California, who has been denied parole at least until 2014 because the test resulted in his being declared a psychopath. Use of the PCL-R continues to spread; it’s mandated by statute in several states.