class 24 - 04:24:12.doc

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Pennsylvania State University
Nicholas Pearson

Class 24 – 04/24/12 Law Abiding Citizens – Deterrence Theory: People do not engage in criminal activity because of legal punishment – Only if the punishment is severe, certain, and swift – Stiffer penalties do not minimize drunk driving, but the certainty of being caught does! – The U.S. Crime rate has gone down, but why? Do severe penalties deter crime? – You might decide not to speed when the fines are high and your road is frequently patrolled by police (ossifer swindell) – But, not as effective on more serious crimes like murder that don't involve rational decisions Death penalty – The unambiguous results are that there is no evidence that the death penalty prevents murder Law abiding citizens – Procedural Justice: Judgements about the fairness of procedures used to determine outcomes – People would often rather maintain a sense of procedural justice than get a positive outcome – People will obey a law if they think its just, even if it is unlikely that they will be caught for breaking it Eyewitness Testimony – If an eyewitness fingers you as the culprit, you are quite likely to be convicted, even if considerable circumstantial evidence indicates that you are innocent – The Innocence Project reports that 180 cases in which DNAevidence exonerated someone after being convicted of a crime – In 75% of these cases, the conviction was based on faulty eyewitness testimony When people break the law – Eyewitnesses: – Memory acquisition, storage, and retrieval – Mistakes and lying – Improvement – Confessions – Juries: – Processing – Deliberations and jury size Eyewitness Memory – Acquiring memory: process where people notice and pay attention to information – Many issues can affect acquisition: – Poor viewing conditions, such as crime being far away, night, speed of crime – People focus on weapons (not the features of the person) – We see what we expect to see – We do not notice unexpected events – Own-race bias: We are better able to recognize faces of our own race – Memory storage: how people store information they gleaned from the environment – We do not always store exactly what we see (reconstructive memory: distortion of memories after an event based on later information) – Misleading questions can affect memory – Cause problems with source monitoring, or figuring out the source of a memory – Cause people to report erroneous “facts” – Memory Retrieval: how people recall information stored in their memories – Especially when using line-ups, witness use a “best-guess” strategy, picking the person that is the closest – Avoid best-guessing by using similar people in line-ups, presenting pictures sequentially (not simultaneously), and many other ways – Do not have eyewitnesses verbalize what a face look
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