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Kirk Heilbrun

Kirk Heilbrun, PhD

Director, Reentry Project
Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences
Office: 334 Stratton Hall
Phone: 215.553.7109


  • PhD, University of Texas at Austin

Curriculum Vitae:

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Research Interests:

  • Forensic mental health assessment
  • Violence risk assessment
  • Risk-reducing interventions


Kirk Heilbrun is currently a Professor in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Drexel University, where he served as department head from 1999-2012 and from 2014-2016. Previously he was a staff psychologist, then chief psychologist, at the Forensic Service, Florida State Hospital, and clinical director of the Forensic Unit, Central State Hospital (Petersburg, VA). He is board certified in clinical psychology and forensic psychology by the American Board of Professional Psychology and is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association in six divisions.

Professor Heilbrun directs a forensic assessment clinic in the Drexel Department of Psychology. The clinic provides psychological evaluations to courts and attorneys on issues that include juvenile commitment and decertification, competence to stand trial, mental state at the time of the offense, federal sentencing, capital sentencing, workplace disability, violence risk assessment, and malpractice. He also directs the Reentry Project, which provides pro bono assessment and treatment services to justice-involved individuals returning to the community from federal prison, individuals under the jurisdiction of a federal mental health court, and individuals exonerated following conviction and incarceration.

His research and scholarly interests center around forensic mental health assessment, violence risk assessment and management, and interventions to reduce the risk of reoffending and promote behavioral health in justice-involved populations.

Selected Publications:

  • Ben-Porath, Y., Heilbrun, K., & Rizzo, M. (2022). Using the MMPI-3 in legal settings. Journal of Personality Assessment. 162-178. Published online December 17, 2021.
  • Fishel, S., Lankford, C., Schwartz, J., & Heilbrun, K. (2021). Diversity, ethics, competence, and social justice:  Training clinics serving justice-involved clients. Association of Psychology Training Clinics Bulletin, winter/spring, 4-5.
  • Heilbrun, K., Giallella, C., Wright, H.J., DeMatteo, D., Griffin, P., Gowensmith, N., Locklair, B., Ayers, D., Desai, A., & Pietruszka, V. (2021).  Jackson-based restorability to competence to stand trial: Critical analysis and recommendations. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 27(3), 370–386.
  • Desai, A., Durham, K., Burke, S. C., NeMoyer, A., & Heilbrun, K. (2021). Releasing individuals from incarceration during COVID-19: Pandemic-related challenges and recommendations for promoting successful reentry. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 27(2), 242-255.
  • Thornewill, A., DeMatto, D., & Heilbrun, K. (2021). The role of data in facilitating discussion: Reply to Jackson (2021). American Psychologist, 76(7), 1198-1199. 
  • Heilbrun, K., Kavanaugh, A., Grisso, T., Anumba, A., Dvoskin, J., & Golding, S. (2021). Racial identity context: Implications for forensic mental health assessment. Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, 49(4), 478-487. Online publication October 2021, DOI:
  • Heilbrun, K. Using theory and data in forensic research and practice (Invited Editorial) (2021).  Criminal Behaviour and Mental Health, 31, 9-12.
  • Heilbrun, K., Burke, S., NeMoyer, A., Durham, K., & Desai, A. (2020).  Forensic mental health assessment in an era of global pandemic: A principles-based analysis of change. Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, 48, 1-9.
  • King, C., & Heilbrun, K. (2020). Effects of criminogenic risk–needs assessment feedback during pre-release correctional rehabilitation.  Criminal Justice and Behavior, 38, 735-755.
  • Heilbrun, K., McPhee, J., Brogan, L., Kreimer, R., & Goldstein, N. (2020). Risk assessment and racial justice. International Association of Forensic Mental Health Services Newsletter, 5, 8-9.
  • DeMatteo, D., Hart, S., Heilbrun, K., Boccaccini, M., Cunningham, M., Douglas, K., Dvoskin, J., Edens, J., Guy, L., Murrie, D., Otto, R., Packer, I., & Reidy, T. Death is different:  Reply to Olver et al. (2020). Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 26(4), 511–518.
  • Heilbrun, K., Fishel, S., Lankford, C., & Ratkalkar, M. (2020). Therapy with exonerated clients:  Review and recommendations. Journal of Forensic Practice, 22, 123-135.
  • DeMatteo, D., Hart, S., Heilbrun, K., Boccaccini, M., Cunningham, M., Douglas, K., Dvoskin, J., Edens, J., Guy, L., Murrie, D., Otto, R., Packer, I., & Reidy, T. (2020). Statement of concerned experts on the use of the Hare Psychopathy Checklist-Revised in capital sentencing to assess risk for institutional violence. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 26, 133-144.  Advance online publication.
  • Thornewill, A., DeMatteo, D., & Heilbrun, K. (2020).  In the immediate wake of Hoffman’s independent review: Psychologist and general public perceptions.  American Psychologist, 75, 694-707. Advance online publication July 23, 2019.
  • Cross, A.B., Mulvey, E., Schubert, C., Griffin, P., DeMatteo, D., Filone, S., Winckworth-Prejsnar, K., & Heilbrun, K.  (2014, reprinted September 2019 as part of Editor’s Choice, Psychiatric Services).  An agenda for advancing research on Crisis Intervention Teams (CIT) for mental health emergencies.  Psychiatric Services, 65, 530-536.  doi:  10.1176/
  • Desai, A., DeMatteo, D., Heilbrun, K., & Rotrosen, J. (2019). Opioid use disorder (OUD) and the criminal defendant:  The impact of defendants’ opioid dependence on judges’ sentencing recommendations.  Journal for Advancing Justice, 2, 55-70.
  • Heilbrun, K., Giallella, C., Wright, H. J., DeMatteo, D., Griffin, P. A., Locklair, B., & Desai, A. (2019). Treatment for restoration of competence to stand trial: Critical analysis and policy recommendations. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 25(4), 266-283. Advance online publication August 22, 2019.
  • Heilbrun, K., Thornewill, A., Desai, A., & Pietruszka, V. (2019).  The importance of evidence on interventions to reduce risk of violence.  Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice.  Online publication May 7, 2019.
  • Heilbrun, K., Durham, K., Thornewill, A., Schiedel, R., Pietruszka, V., Phillips, S., Locklair, B., & Thomas, J. (2018).  Life sentenced juveniles: Public perceptions of risk and need for incarceration.  Behavioral Sciences and the Law, 36, 587-596. DOI: 10.1002/bsl.2377