Tuesday, June 30, 2009

New UCSF Study: Heavy Caseload Adversely Affects Immigaton Judges

ImmigrationProf previously reported that the backlogs of the immigration courts ar growing.  Now, a new study completed by researchers from UC San Francisco finds that many immigration judges adjudicating cases of asylum seekers are suffering from significant symptoms of secondary traumatic stress and job burnout, which, according to the researchers, may shape their judicial decision-making processes.

The findings appear in “Inside the Judges’ Chambers: Narrative Responses from the National Association of Immigration Judges Stress and Burnout Survey” which will be published June 26, 2009 as part of the fall 2008 (cq) edition of the Georgetown Immigration Law Journal. The study is available online at https://articleworks.cadmus.com/geolaw/zs900109.html.

The study is the first to employ traditional psychological testing instruments to measure stress levels in immigration judges. The researchers found, through a quantitative data analysis of the 96 immigration judges who responded to a survey, that the judges’ burnout levels were higher than those suffered by hospital physicians and prison wardens.

The study is unique, the researchers said, because its findings include direct quotes from the judges themselves. Immigration judges are prohibited from speaking with outsiders about their work without Department of Justice permission, so their candid comments on their working conditions have not been captured before.

The survey subjects’ comments provide graphic and specific illustrations of the intense level of stress and burnout under which they are working, the authors said. The study notes that mental health clinicians have been interested in the occupational effects among those who work with trauma victims, such as immigration judges, since some victims, including asylum seekers, suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The researchers note that the occupational hazards of the immigration judges may include “compassion fatigue” and “secondary traumatic stress” (STS). Sufferers of STS may manifest physical symptoms as significant and frequent as victims of trauma themselves do. “

Co-authors of the study were Niranjan Karnik, MD, PhD; Kevin Delucchi, PhD; Lakshika Tennakoon, MSc, of the UCSF Department of Psychiatry; Brent Kaul, International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers; and Hon. Denise Slavin, JD, National Association of Immigration Judges.

KJ

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/immigration/2009/06/new-ucsf-study-heavy-caseload-adversely-affects-immigaton-judges.html

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