Crime: How to Solve it - And Why So Much of What Were Told is Wrong
Work by other researchers has answered some of those criticisms. Social psychologist Melissa Russano at Roger Williams University in Bristol, Rhode Island, designed an experiment in which volunteers were asked to solve a set of logic problems—some working in groups and some alone. The researchers stipulated that under no circumstances should anyone assist the students working alone. Beforehand, however, a few students were coached to become visibly upset. That prompted some of their classmates to help, in violation of the rules.
In those experiments, the helpers could not have committed the "crime" without knowing, and confessing carried some consequence because cheating violated the college's honor code. But, just as Kassin found, accusatory questioning often provoked false confessions. Russano also tested another component of standard interrogations—the "minimization" technique that lowers the emotional barrier to confessing. She and colleagues would say things such as, "You probably didn't realize what a big deal this was.
He and social psychologist Richard Ofshe, then at the University of California, Berkeley, also described "persuaded" confessions in which a suspect, worn down by hours of interrogation, goes into a fugue and begins to believe their own guilt. The problem is especially pronounced among adolescents like Burton, who are both impressionable and cowed by authority. Much of the Reid technique involves watching for verbal and nonverbal signs of deception, something many police investigators think they are skilled at doing. Kassin put that confidence to the test more than a decade ago.
He recruited the best liars he could find—a group of prisoners at a Massachusetts penitentiary. For a small fee he asked half to tell the truth of their crimes on video and the other half to lie, saying they had committed someone else's crime. He showed the videos to college students and police. Neither group did particularly well at truth detection the average person is right about half the time , but the students performed better than the police.
Yet the police felt more certain about their conclusions. A poster in Kassin's office at John Jay College shows 28 faces: men, women, adults, adolescents, white, black, Hispanic. There's no one kind of person who can give a false confession. It can happen to anybody. Kassin has helped many of them. Defense lawyers and human rights organizations around the world often call on him to analyze confessions or testify about the nature of interrogation—sometimes as a paid consultant or witness, sometimes pro bono.
One face on the poster belongs to Amanda Knox, the U. Kassin's reports to Italian courts were involved in getting her freed. He testified for John Kogut, a Long Island man who after an hour interrogation falsely confessed to raping and murdering a year-old girl. DNA evidence had won Kogut's release after he spent 18 years in prison, but prosecutors retried him on the basis of the confession.
Kassin's testimony helped acquit him. Then there was Barry Laughman, a man with the mental capacity of a year-old, who in confessed to raping and murdering an elderly neighbor after police falsely told him they found his fingerprints at the scene. After his confession, the police disregarded all other evidence. Neighbors who offered alibis for Laughman were told they must be mistaken. His blood was type B, but the only blood at the crime scene was type A.
So the forensic expert proposed a novel theory: that bacterial degradation could have changed the blood type from B to A. Laughman spent 16 years in prison until DNA evidence finally cleared him. Kassin later testified when Laughman sued the state. To Kassin, Laughman's case showed that confession doesn't just trump other evidence, but can corrupt it as well.
After a confession, alibis are recanted, witnesses change stories, police ignore exculpatory evidence, and forensic scientists reinterpret material. In Huwe Burton's case, for example, police had caught a neighbor with a history of violence driving the dead mother's stolen car, but they did not consider him a suspect because Burton had confessed. The magnitude of the effect emerged in , when Kassin and colleagues published an analysis of 59 false confession cases from the Innocence Project. Forty-nine of those also involved other mistakes, such as eyewitness errors and mistaken forensics—a far higher proportion than in nonconfession cases.
In 30 of those cases, the confession was the first piece of evidence collected. In other words, once the police had a confession, all the other evidence lined up to support it. That has an ironic effect: Even when confessions have turned out to be false, appeals courts have ruled that the other evidence is strong enough to support the conviction, Kassin says.
Other groups have shown experimentally how a narrative can shape forensic evidence. One dramatic example came in , when U. Dror and Hampikian obtained the printed DNA results from a rape case in which a man was found guilty. The original genetic analysts had been told that police had a suspect in custody; the forensic experts then determined that the suspect's DNA was part of the crime scene sample. To see whether knowledge of the arrest caused bias, Dror and Hampikian gave the printouts to 17 experts unconnected with the case and told them nothing about the suspect.
Only one of them matched the suspect's DNA to the crime sample. Such findings support the increasingly popular idea that all forensic science should be "blinded"—conducted without any knowledge about the suspects. Sometimes a confession will override even untainted DNA evidence. In the infamous "Central Park Five" case dramatized in a new Netflix series, five teenagers in confessed after hours of interrogation to brutally beating and raping a female jogger in New York City.
They quickly recanted, and none of the DNA recovered from the victim was theirs. Yet two juries convicted them after the prosecutor explained away the contradiction. She came up with a theory that a sixth unidentified accomplice had also raped the victim and was the only person to ejaculate. The "unindicted co-ejaculator" theory has been used in other wrongful convictions as well. Thirteen years later, the man whose DNA matched the sample—a convicted serial rapist and murderer serving a life sentence—confessed that he alone had committed the crime.
How could such an injustice occur? Kassin and a colleague published a study in in which they simulated the situation with mock jury experiments. But if the prosecutor offered a theory as to why the DNA contradicted the confession, the juries overwhelmingly sided with the confession—an insight, he says, into the power of story to influence judgment. Change is coming. By , the evidence about how interrogations can go wrong had become so compelling that Kassin and several colleagues from the United States and United Kingdom wrote an American Psychological Association white paper warning about the risk of coercion.
They suggested several reforms, such as prohibiting lying by police, limiting interrogation time, recording all interrogations from start to finish, and eliminating the use of minimization. They also said the practice of seeking confessions was so inherently damaging that it might be necessary to "completely reconceptualize" the tactic and come up with something new.
One model comes from England, where police did away with their Reid-style interrogation system in the early s after several false conviction scandals. Police there now use a system designed to identify deception based not on visible signs of emotional stress, but on "cognitive load," which can lead liars to stumble as they try to keep their stories straight.
English police conduct the kind of open-ended interviews that journalists might use and are encouraged not to go after confessions. Several other countries including New Zealand and Australia, along with parts of Canada, have adopted the new method. They also record the entire interrogation to make the process transparent, something that 25 U. Two years ago, one of the largest U. The company was influenced by the proliferation of research and a desire to minimize false confessions, says Dave Thompson, vice president of operations.
Kassin sees progress, too.
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In March, he spoke to a group that until recently might have been hostile to his message: 40 district attorneys from around the country who want to learn to avoid wrongful convictions. By Meredith Wadman Jul.
By Dennis Normile Jul. All rights Reserved.
Saul Kassin has studied interrogations by observing them and simulating them in the lab. Got a tip? How to contact the news team.
Why so much of what were told about solving crime is wrong | UK Police News - Police Oracle
Science Insider. Ploonets are real. Reliability analysis reveals an alpha of. Each question has a four-category response ranging from a great deal, some, little, and none at all. Each question has a five-category response ranging from very high, high, average, low, and very low. For the scaling purposes, very low and low were combined into one category.
The category response range from serious problem, somewhat of a problem, minor problem, and not a problem at all. Higher scores indicate positive appraisals towards police effectiveness and lower scores indicate negative appraisals of political effectiveness. Punitive justice attitudes are measured by using 11 items.
These questions were categorical in nature and for scaling purposes they were dummy coded. Table one presents the items that are scaled to identify those who hold punitive attitudes toward crime and justice. The scale ranges from 0 punitive attitudes to 1 non-punitive attitudes. The scores range from 0 highly punitive to 11 non-punitive and the average score for respondents is four. The alpha level of punitive attitude scale is. Nevertheless, one limitation is equating punitive attitudes with retributive attitudes. Historically, the notion of retribution meant "an eye for an eye" and emphasized "harsh" punishment.
However, the concept of retribution has evolved and includes the concept of just deserts. The central principle of just deserts is proportionality; the severity of the punishment should be proportional to the gravity of the offense. Punitiveness is more concerned with the prevention and reduction of crime through deterrence principles Von Hirsch, However, it is unclear whether survey respondents understand the differences between punitiveness and retribution.
The media variables include crime-show viewing, television hours and crime news source. Crime-show viewing is measured by asking respondents if they are frequent viewers of a television crime show. Finally, respondents were asked the primary source of crime news. A number of control variables are employed in this research to ensure that media effects are properly measured. Demographic variables such as race, gender, age, income, residence, level of education, and marital status are employed in the analysis.
Race, income, residence, level of education and marital status are dummy-coded. Respondents were asked to rate the seriousness of a number of issues in their neighborhood. Higher scores indicate high levels of problems in the neighborhood, whereas lower scores indicate low levels of problems in the neighborhood.
The analytic strategy is to examine the relationship between media variables and fear of crime, perceived police effectiveness and punitive justice attitudes. The first step is to conduct univariate and bivariate analysis. The next step is to employ multivariate regression models using the ordinary least squares. Three models will be developed to examine the dependent variables, which will include fear of crime, punitive justice attitudes and perceived police effectiveness.
The first model will examine the association between crime-show viewing, newspaper as primary source of crime news, hours of television per week and fear of crime. The [End page ] control variables will include age, race, residence, marital status, income, gender, problems in neighborhood, and perception of police effectiveness. The second model will examine the association between crime-show viewing, newspapers as primary source of crime news, hours of television viewing and punitive justice attitudes.
We will employ the same control variables as step one, except that we will include fear of crime as an independent variable. The final step is to examine the association between crime-show viewing, newspapers as primary source of crime news, hours of television viewing and perceived police effectiveness. We will employ age, race, residence, marital status, income, gender, neighborhood problems, fear of crime and punitive attitudes as control variables. The scaled variables were employed as both dependent and control variables. On a scale of eight to thirty-two, the respondents score On a scale from 0 to 11, respondents mean score is 4.
Socio-demographic characteristics of the sample indicate that 7. The results of correlation analysis are also included in table 2. The results indicate that viewing crime shows is significantly related to fear of crime and perceived police effectiveness. Regular viewers of crime shows are more likely to fear or worry about crime.
Similarly, regular crime drama viewers are more likely to hold negative attitudes toward police effectiveness. The bivariate analysis indicates that newspaper as primary source of crime news and hours of television viewing are not significantly related to fear of crime, punitive attitudes or perceived police effectiveness. In addition, the results indicate that white, married, and low-income 15k to 30k respondents are more likely to have punitive attitudes, whereas black, college educated, and respondents with low appraisals of police effectiveness are less likely to have punitive attitudes.
The results also indicate that older respondents, males and respondents with low perception of neighborhood problems are more likely to have low fear of crime, whereas, younger respondents, female, Hispanic, college-educated and respondents with low appraisals of police effectiveness are more likely to fear crime. Finally, bivariate results suggest that Hispanic, African-American, urban, and younger respondents are more likely to have negative or low appraisals of police effectiveness.
Conversely, respondents with punitive attitudes, with a medium income 30k to 60k , older, white, with low perceptions of neighborhood problems are more likely to have positive or high appraisals of police effectiveness. However, there may be a number of factors that mitigate or enhance the relationships. Thus, it is necessary to conduct multivariate techniques to further address these relationships.
The findings indicate that crime-show viewing is related to fear of crime. Respondents who report that they are regular viewers of crime shows are more likely to be fearful of crime. This is true even when we control for age, gender, race, income, education, marital status, perceived police effectiveness and perceived neighborhood problems. However, hours of television and newspaper as the primary source of crime news are not significantly related to fear of crime.
Low Fear of Crime Model Punitive Attitudes Model In this model, the strongest relationship is perceived problems in the neighborhood, followed by gender, education, regular viewing of crime shows, age, income and perceived police effectiveness. Respondents who claim that there are a high number of problems in their neighborhood are more likely to fear crime. This is not surprising, as respondents may feel unsafe in an area that they believe is conducive to crime.
Female respondents are also more likely to fear crime. This is consistent with prior research that shows that females are more likely to fear or worry about crime Garofalo, b; LaGrange and Ferraro, ; Parker, ; Parker and Ray, ; Warr, Skogan and Maxfield, College educated respondents are more likely to be fearful of crime. This result is unanticipated, as we would assume that higher education would inform subjects about the nature of crime and justice.
However, college educated respondents may feel that they have more to "lose" if they are victimized. Moreover, regular viewers of crime drama are more likely to fear crime. Television portrayal of crime and justice is largely sensational, violent and fear producing. Viewers may receive a "distorted" image of the typical crime or criminal, which may produce fear or anxiety about criminal activity.
Compared to respondents with average incomes 30k to 60k , lower income respondents are more likely to fear crime. This is consistent with prior research, which reveals that low-income individuals are more likely to fear crime Will and McGrath, ; Skogan and Maxfield, ; Baumer, Older respondents are less likely to fear crime, which is not consistent with prior research Baldassare, ; Garofalo, b; Skogan and Maxfield, ; Yin, Finally, respondents who gave poor ratings of police performance are more likely to be fearful of crime.
Table three presents the results of punitive attitudes regressed on the media consumption. The findings indicate none of the media consumption variables are related to punitive attitudes. The strongest indicator of punitive attitudes is race, followed by education, income, fear of crime, and marital status. African-American respondents are more likely to hold non-punitive attitudes.
This may be the result of inequalities of the justice system. For example, compared to whites, African-Americans are more likely to receive harsher punishments such as the death penalty and African-Americans are disproportionately over- represented in prisons Reiman, Some African-Americans may feel threatened by a punitive justice model or feel that a punitive justice model reinforces discrimination and persecution of African-Americans. In addition, respondents with college education are more likely to hold non-punitive attitudes.
Those with education may be more likely to recognize the inequalities of the justice system and determine that solutions to the "crime problem" may be better served by policies of reintegration or rehabilitation. Furthermore, compared to average income respondents, low-income respondents 15, to 30, are more likely to hold punitive attitudes towards crime and justice. As a result, low- income respondents may believe that a punitive ideology is necessary to prevent and reduce crime in the areas in which they live.
Moreover, respondents with a high fear of crime are more likely to have punitive attitudes.
The Problem with “Broken Windows” Policing
Fear of crime may provide impetus for support of "get tough" crime policies. Finally, married respondents are more likely to have punitive attitudes. Married respondents might believe that they have more to lose if they are victimized i. Table three examines perceived police effectiveness regressed on media and control variables. A possible explanation is that there is little agreement on the role that police play on television crime dramas and news reports.
Some research suggests that police are positively portrayed while others show that the police are negatively portrayed. However, the results indicate that age, perceived problems in the neighborhood, fear of crime, and race are significantly related to perceived police effectiveness. Older respondents are more likely have high ratings of police effectiveness, whereas younger respondents are more likely to have low ratings of police effectiveness. This is consistent with prior research that shows that compared to younger persons; the elderly have more favorable attitudes toward police Garofalo, ; Hindelang, ; Thomas and Hyman, Respondents who believe that there a high number of problems in their neighborhood are more likely to rate police effectiveness as being poor.
Respondents may not believe that the local police are not properly fulfilling their role in the community. These respondents may feel that the police are not adequately protecting their communities. Finally, African-Americans are more likely to hold low ratings of police effectiveness. This is similar to prior research which suggests that African-Americans have an antagonistic view of police Garofalo, and that there is a "climate of distrust:" between African-Americans and law enforcement Jacob, However, other studies indicate that residence and social class mitigate the effect of race.
For example, Kusow, Wilson and Martin find little support that African-Americans are less satisfied with police effectiveness. They find that both African-American and white suburbanites are more satisfied with police performance than African-American and white urban residents. In addition, Albrecht and Green find that low-income African-Americans living in inner cities possess the least favorable attitudes toward the police. Similarly, Parker, Onyekwuluje and Murty find that African-Americans who reside in high crime areas, and who have low incomes are more likely to have held negative attitudes toward the police.
Nevertheless, controlling for income and residence we find that African-Americans are significantly more likely to hold unfavorable attitudes toward police. Waddington and Braddock find that African-Americans believe that whites receive preferential police treatment and that African-Americans are subjects of discrimination. Research indicates that there is a significant association between being black and being harassed by police Browning et al. Other factors may include an increased awareness of police corruption, racism, brutality and racial profiling.
A number of significant "social" events occurred during the 's. For example, the beating of Rodney King and the racist remarks of Mark Fuhrman elevated racism and police brutality into national issues. Finally, we have seen racial profiling or "driving while black" emerge as an important social issue.
This study reveals that regular viewers of crime shows are more likely to fear crime. Although statistically significant, the strength of this finding is minimal. In addition, there are a few limitations with regard to the measures of media consumption. First, the type of crime show that the respondent is viewing is unknown. There are numerous types of crime shows that may focus on different aspects of the criminal justice system.
For example, crime shows may focus on police, courts, private investigators, defense lawyers and sometimes even the criminals.
In addition, some shows are more realistic, while others routinely portray violence, and consistently misinform viewers about the nature of the criminal justice system and criminality. It would be prudent to know which dramas the respondents are viewing.
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Second, employing television hours watched is problematic, since there is no way of determining what type of programs the respondent is viewing. There are a number of different programs that may or may not address criminal justice issues and address them in substantially different ways. Finally, examining newspapers as the primary source of crime news suggests that only newspapers influence respondents.
Despite these limitations, there are some interesting results regarding fear of crime and perceived police effectiveness. Even when controlling for a number of factors, viewing crime shows is weakly related to fear of crime. Fear of crime may be "natural" reactions to the violence, brutality, and "injustice" that are broadcast to living rooms on a daily basis. Crimes on television shows and films reveal several trends. There is an overemphasis on crimes of violence and offenders are often portrayed in stereotypical ways.
For example, murder and robbery dominate while property crimes are rarely presented Surette, Offenders are often viewed as psychopaths that prey on weak and vulnerable victims. In other cases offenders are portrayed as businessmen or professionals that are shrewd, ruthless, and violent. Television crime is exciting and a rewarding endeavor, whereas victims are passive, helpless and vulnerable Surette, Many viewers may not understand the justice process and are unlikely to understand motivations and causes of criminal behavior.
The criminal justice system is portrayed as largely ineffective, with the exception of a few "heroes" that provide justice or in some cases vengeance towards offenders Surette, Crime shows rarely focus on mitigating issues of criminal behavior and are unlikely to portray offenders in a sympathetic or even realistic fashion. On television, crime is freely chosen and based on individual problems of the offender. Analysis of crime dramas reveal that greed, revenge and mental illness are the basic motivations for crime and offenders are often portrayed as "different" from the general population Lichter and Lichter, ; Maguire, Thus, viewers may believe that all offenders are "monsters" to be feared.
Consequently, heavy viewers may perceive crime as threatening, offenders as violent, brutal or ruthless and victims as helpless. Nevertheless, the relationship between fear of crime and crime show viewing is statistically weak. As a result, it is important for future research to examine the relationship by employing triangulated strategies such as content analysis, experimental and survey research designs.
The results indicate that perception of police effectiveness is not related to media consumption. However, African-Americans and respondents who report a high number of problems in their neighborhood are more likely to give negative evaluations of police effectiveness. Future research should examine how the media influences these attitudes. The media may produce "feelings" that local neighborhoods are "problem filled" or dangerous. For instance, local news broadcasts may focus on highly sensational, violent and disturbing crime that occurs in the neighborhood. It may be possible that media presentation will affect attitudes toward the neighborhood.
In this sample, African-Americans are more likely to give poor ratings of police effectiveness. However, it is unclear as to why or how African-Americans gain these views. It is generally assumed that these views are the result of discrimination. Direct experience aside, the mass media may play a role in African-American attitudes toward police effectiveness. Future studies should examine how the media portrayal of the criminal justice system affects African-American [End page ] attitudes toward police.
The media may have a strong effect on African-American criminal justice attitudes. As a result, it is imperative that we understand how the media influences public attitudes. Although there are limitations within the data set and the findings are weak, regular viewing of crime shows is related to fear of crime. However, crime show viewing is not related to punitive attitudes or perceived police effectiveness, while hours of television viewing and source of crime news are not related to fear of crime, punitive attitudes or perceived police effectiveness. Nevertheless, more research is required to determine the relationship between media consumption and attitudes toward crime and justice.
This was recoded into college 0 and no college 1. VIF and tolerance statistics indicated no problems with multi-collinearity.
Case-wise diagnostics revealed several outliers which were excluded from the analysis. Albrecht, S. Crecine ed. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage. Baldassare, M. Barille, L. Justice and the Media: Issues and Research. Springfield , Illinois: Charles C. Baumer, T. Browning, S. Bryant, J. Chiricos, T. Christensen, J. Dominick, J.