February 3, 2009

Study Guide for "What Jennifer Saw"

Find and study the point made about eyewitness identification in the quotes below. I'll select from these the video questions on Exam 1. You can download the video transcript by clicking on the video title in your downloaded syllabus.

Jennifer Thompson,
1. "The photos were individual type of...
2. "When I picked him out in the physical lineup..."
3. "I never remember looking at Bobby Poole, thinking..."
4. "After I picked it out, they looked at me..."
5. "I have to accept the answer that's been given..."

Rich Rosen, all quotes

Reed Hunt, all quotes

Janet Reno, "When you look at the cases..."

Elizabeth Loftus, all quotes

January 26, 2009

Wrogful Convictions, The Innocence Project, January 26, 2009

Facts on Post-Conviction DNA Exonerations
The Innocence Project, January 26, 2009

There have been 232 post-conviction DNA exonerations in the United States.

• The first DNA exoneration took place in 1989. Exonerations have been won in 33 states; since 2000, there have been 167 exonerations.

• 17 of the 232 people exonerated through DNA served time on death row.

• The average length of time served by exonerees is 12 years. The total number of years served is approximately 2,894.

• The average age of exonerees at the time of their wrongful convictions was 26.

Races of the 232 exonerees:

138 African Americans
64 Caucasians
20 Latinos
1 Asian American
9 whose race is unknown

• The true suspects and/or perpetrators have been identified in 90 of the DNA exoneration cases.

• Since 1989, there have been tens of thousands of cases where prime suspects were identified and pursued—until DNA testing (prior to conviction) proved that they were wrongly accused.

• In more than 25 percent of cases in a National Institute of Justice study, suspects were excluded once DNA testing was conducted during the criminal investigation (the study, conducted in 1995, included 10,060 cases where testing was performed by FBI labs).

• About half of the people exonerated through DNA testing have been financially compensated. 25 states, the federal government, and the District of Columbia have passed laws to compensate people who were wrongfully incarcerated. Awards under these statutes vary from state to state.

• 33 percent of cases closed by the Innocence Project were closed because of lost or missing evidence.

Leading Causes of Wrongful Convictions
These DNA exoneration cases have provided irrefutable proof that wrongful convictions are not isolated or rare events, but arise from systemic defects that can be precisely identified and addressed. For more than 15 years, the Innocence Project has worked to pinpoint these trends.

Eyewitness misidentification testimony was a factor in 77 percent of post-conviction DNA exoneration cases in the U.S., making it the leading cause of these wrongful convictions. Of that 77 percent, about 40 percent of cases where race is known involved cross-racial eyewitness identification. Studies have shown that people are less able to recognize faces of a different race than their own. These suggested reforms are embraced by leading criminal justice organizations and have been adopted in the states of New Jersey and North Carolina, large cities like Minneapolis and Seattle, and many smaller jurisdictions.

Limited, unreliable or fraudulent forensic science has played a role in 65 percent of wrongful convictions.
In over half of DNA exonerations, the misapplication of forensic disciplines—such as blood type testing, hair analysis, fingerprint analysis, bite mark analysis, and more—has played a role in convicting the innocent. In some cases, forensic scientists and prosecutors presented fraudulent, exaggerated, or otherwise tainted evidence to the judge or jury which led to the wrongful conviction. Three cases have even involved erroneous testimony about DNA test results.

False confessions and incriminating statements lead to wrongful convictions in 25 percent of cases. More than 500 jurisdictions now record interrogations to prevent false confessions.

False confessions are another leading cause of wrongful convictions. Twenty-five percent of cases involve a false confession or incriminating statement made by the defendant. In 35 percent of those cases, the defendant was 18 years old or younger and/or developmentally disabled. The Innocence Project encourages police departments to electronically record all custodial interrogations in their entirety in order to prevent coercion and to provide an accurate record of the proceedings. More than 500 jurisdictions have voluntarily adopted policies to record interrogations. State supreme courts have taken action in Alaska, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, and Wisconsin. Illinois, Maine, New Mexico, and the District of Columbia require the taping of interrogations in homicide cases.

Snitches contributed to wrongful convictions in 15 percent of cases.
Another principal factor in wrongful convictions is the use of snitches, or jailhouse informants. Whenever snitch testimony is used, the Innocence Project recommends that the judge instruct the jury that most snitch testimony is unreliable as it may be offered in return for deals, special treatment, or the dropping of charges. Prosecutors should also reveal any incentive the snitch might receive, and all communication between prosecutors and snitches should be recorded. Fifteen percent of wrongful convictions that were later overturned by DNA testing were caused in part by snitch testimony.

January 25, 2009

Study Guide for "The Justice System"

Study Guide

1. Who initiates the response to crime?

2. List four sources for law enforcement learning about crimes?

3. Describe the elements of each of the following steps in the criminal justice process:
a. entry into the system
b. prosecution and pretrial services
c. adjudication
d sentencing and sanctions
e. corrections

4. Identify the decisions that the following criminal justice officials have to decide. The number in parentheses refers to how many decisions each official has the power to make:
a. Police (4)
b. Prosecutors (4)
c. Judges/magistrates (6)
d. Corrections officials (3)
e. Parole authorities (2)

Criminal Justice "Frames"

1. Faulty Criminal Justice System Frame
People commit crimes because they know they can get away with them the police are handcuffed by “soft on crime? judges. The prisons are revolving doors. The only way to ensure public safety is to increase the speed, certainty, and severity of punishment. Loopholes and technicalities that interfere with the apprehension and imprisonment of offenders has to be eliminated, and funding for police, courts, and prisons has to be increased. The faulty system frame is symbolically represented by the convicted, repeat rapist or by the image of inmates passing through a revolving door on a prison.

2. Blocked Opportunities Frame
Crime is a consequence of inequality and discrimination, especially in unemployment, poverty, and education. People commit crimes when they discover that the legitimate means for attaining material success are blocked. Unemployment, ignorance, disease, filth, poor housing, congestion, and discrimination all contribute to a crime wave that is sweeping our nation. “If you’re going to create a sink-or-swim society, you have to expect people to thrash before they go down,? is an example of a claim associated with the blocked opportunity frame. To reduce crime, government has to improve the social conditions that cause it. Examples of blocked opportunities include dead-end jobs held by inner-city youth, such as flipping burgers at McDonald's.

3. Social Breakdown Frame
Crime is a consequence of family and community disintegration, skyrocketing rates of divorce, and out-of-wedlock births. One version of social breakdown attributes family and community breakdown to “permissiveness,? like government-sponsored welfare. Another version attributes family and community breakdown to unemployment, racial discrimination, and the loss of jobs and income. According to this version, “In America’s toughest neighborhoods, meanest streets, and poorest rural areas, we have seen a stunning breakdown of community, family and work at the heart and soul of civilized society. This has created a vast vacuum into which violence, drugs and gangs have moved.?

4. Racist System Frame
The courts and police are racist agents of oppression. Police resources are dedicated more to the protection of White neighborhoods than to reducing crime in Minority communities. Black offenders are more likely than Whites who commit comparable offenses to be arrested, convicted, and sentenced to prison. The death penalty is administered in a racist fashion. According to one claim, “We have in these United States lived under a dual system of justice, one for the White, one for the Black.?

5. Violent Media Frame
Crime and violence in society are due violence on television, in the movies, and in popular music. Violence in the mass media undermines respect for life. To reduce violence in society, we have to first reduce it in the mass media. “By the time the average child reaches age 18, he will have witnessed some 18,000 murders and countless highly detailed incidents of robbery, arson, bombings, shooting, beatings, forgery, smuggling and torture.? Violent media is not the most important source of our cultural violence, but it substantially contribute to violent crime.

January 24, 2009

Study guide for "Criminal Victimization 2007."

Read page one carefully, including Table 1. Then, note the bolded headings in the remaining pages.

Study Guide for "Unlocking America"

Download file

January 20, 2009

Criminal Justice System Flow Chart

Download flowchart