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Michael J. Vitacco - Augusta University. Augusta, GA, US

Michael J. Vitacco

Professor | Augusta University


Professor Vitacco is an established expert in the field of forensic psychology.





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Michael J. Vitacco, PhD, ABPP, earned his graduate degree in clinical psychology from the University of North Texas. He completed specialized training in forensic psychology from UNC and UMASS medical schools.

Areas of Expertise (5)

Public and Preventive Health


Clinical Psychology

Forensic Psychology

Health Behavior

Affiliations (4)

  • American Board of Professional Psychology : Board Certified in Forensic Psychology
  • International Academy of Law and Mental Health : Member
  • American Psychological Association : Member
  • American Psychology-Law Society : Member

Media Appearances (5)

Prosecutor: Virginia trooper justified in fatal shooting

WTVR.com  online


“The majority of people do well,” Michael J. Vitacco, a psychiatry professor at Augusta University in Georgia, told The Associated Press last year. “The combination of mandated treatment and follow-up is very much protective for the community.”

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Man shot by trooper among many with mental illness history

AP News  online


“The majority of people do well,” said Michael J. Vitacco, a psychiatry professor at Augusta University in Georgia who has conducted research on insanity acquittals, including in Virginia. “The combination of mandated treatment and follow-up is very much protective for the community.”

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Brain imaging provides little insight in insanity evaluation

EurekAlert!  online


"MRIs and other brain scans are good for many things but they really have limited use when you talk about truly determining if someone was criminally responsible or not," says Dr. Michael J. Vitacco, forensic psychologist in the Department of Psychiatry and Health Behavior at the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University.

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Supervision and accountability gives the criminally insane a new chance at life

WJBF  tv

Doctor Michael Vitacco is a forensic psychologist at The Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University. Doctor Vitacco and his team have their hands in some pretty fascinating research. The part of it we’re focusing on today deals with the criminally insane. When you’ve heard someone plead guilty by reason of insanity, what happens to them after that? Are they gone away forever? Can they be fixed? If so, how? What sort of resources are out there? What works, what doesn’t? Brad Means: That’s what Doctor Vitacco and his folks have been looking at over at the Medical College of Georgia. It’s yet another project that’s put put us all on the map nationally, and internationally, and Doctor Vitacco, I appreciate you being back with us.

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When mental illness meets deadly force

WFXG  tv

People with untreated mental illness are 16 times more likely to be killed in a police encounter, according to a recent study by the Treatment Advocacy Center. In a handout video released late last week, Burke County Sheriff Alfonzo Williams addressed the death of a suspect in custody: “Freddie Walker was involved in a mental crisis that ultimately resulted in his death.” In the early morning hours of July 28th, Freddie Walker, a Burke County man, died after multiple taser deployments when the Sheriff’s Office responded to a request for assistance with a, quote, “combative mental subject.” “All too often, in this state, and in the country, we have persons with mental health issues getting involved with the police,” said Sheriff Williams. Just three weeks earlier, Duterval Sejour also died after contact with a Sheriff’s Deputy, this time in Richmond County. A 911 caller told dispatch: “I don’t know what his story is. He’s out of his mind.” Augusta University professor Dr. Michael Vitacco says the best option in cases of mental health struggles is early intervention before law enforcement is involved.

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Articles (3)

Psychopathy in Correctional Settings: Considerations for Developing and Implementing a Treatment Program

Journal of Correctional Health Care

2023 Psychopathy is associated with higher levels of violence as well as general and violent recidivism after release from prison. A disorder with a long and rich clinical and research history, psychopathy has gained an undeserved reputation as a syndrome that is unresponsive to treatment.

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Conditional release and cannabis use: Concerns and challenges for community reintegration

Behavioral Sciences & the Law

2022 This article, which serves as a perspective review, delves into the complexities of cannabis use among individuals preparing for or already on conditional release (CR). These complexities include an association between cannabis use and mental illness and dealing with the fact that the use of illicit substances, such as cannabis, is against CR rules, leading to potential revocation.

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Risk assessment and provisional discharge: Predictive utility of the HCR-20

Psychology, Public Policy, and Law

2022 The study examines the predictive utility of the HCR-20 in risk assessments for supervised release to the community as well as returns to the forensic hospital for individuals under indeterminate civil commitment in Minnesota. This archival review included 331 patients who were evaluated for provisional discharge to the community using either the HCR-20V2 or HCR-20V3, and 135 patients were released.

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