Forensic psychologists are an elite group of psychologists that combine their knowledge of psychology with legal expertise. This multifaceted expertise commands high salaries.
These professionals often specialize as expert witnesses in custody cases or by helping to determine whether or not defendants are competent to stand trial. High-profile cases in Wisconsin involving forensic evaluations of this sort have included the Jeffrey Dahmer murders and the brutal attacks in the Slender Man case.
Additionally, a number of forensic psychologists work with inmates that are mentally ill. This has been a critical issue in Wisconsin, since the number of such patients incarcerated in the local jails has skyrocketed as the state hospitals have been downsized. A 2014 report conducted by the National Sheriff’s Association and the Treatment Advocacy Program described the following conditions from a 2012 report:
- About 1/3 of the men in Wisconsin prisons have mental health conditions
- About 2/3 of the women in these prisons have mental health conditions
- 23% of the prisoners are taking medications to treat mental illness
The US Department of Justice and the ACLU filed two lawsuits against Wisconsin for its treatment of mentally ill women at the Taycheedah Correctional Institute. Wisconsin was one of the few states that allowed correctional officers to administer medication instead of psychiatric nurses. Since some of these medications can cause serious side effects, most states use medical personnel to administer drugs such as antipsychotics. Wisconsin has since been progressive in training its correctional officers to respond to issues with mentally ill patients and developed a Crisis Intervention Tactic with assistance from forensic psychologists.
Salaries for Forensic Psychologists in Wisconsin
The salaries for forensic psychologists who work for the state of Wisconsin differ depending on whether or not these professionals specialize in sexual violence cases. Forensic psychologists who provide forensic evaluations under the Sexually Violent Person Commitments law (Chapter 980) receive higher salaries. Shown below are the salaries for the two classifications of forensic psychologists in Wisconsin (2015):
- Forensic psychologist—chapter 980: $67,226 – $151,258
- Forensic psychologist: $53,581 – $120,356
Wisconsin’s Department of Workforce Development provides the salaries for forensic psychologists who worked in Wisconsin as of 2014:
- Entry-level: $41,300
- Median: $66,430
- Experienced: $87,990
Forensic Psychologist Salaries in Wisconsin’s Cities and Rural Areas
Shown below for comparative purposes are the salaries for forensic psychologists throughout Wisconsin as of 2014 (US Bureau of Labor Statistics):