Social media makes collaborative investigations possible

May 2017

Self-described internet investigators can collaborate far easier in the age of social media, Chancellor's Professor Emeritus Dan Stokols told the Baltimore Sun.

Internet sleuths uncovered information about a Maryland couple who posted videos of their children to their YouTube channel "DaddyOFive." Some people found the behavior in the videos abusive and sought to implement justice on their own.

Capital punishment juries in question in O.C.

April 2017

Juries could increasingly favor the death penalty, despite declining public support, Social Ecology professor finds.

When the case of Scott Dekraai – who pled guilty to murdering eight people in a Seal Beach salon in 2011 – goes to the sentencing phase of the trial, more than one-third of potential jurors could be rejected based on their beliefs about the death penalty.

The consequence? A jury that could be tilted in favor of capital punishment, even as national polls show that fewer and fewer people support it, according to a recent paper published in the Yale Law Journal by Nicholas Scurich, an associate professor in the School of Social Ecology.

Sleep deprivation: one reason people give false confessions

April 2017

Innocent people frequently confess to crimes they never committed, and false confessions are, in fact, responsible for 25 percent of exonerations resulting from DNA evidence, according to an essay in Time featuring Psychology and Social Behavior Professor Beth Loftus.

A false confession often starts with police officers presuming guilt, then seeking to detect signs in the suspect's demeanor and voice. Then, they coerce the subject, sometimes with lies about evidence against the suspect. Finally, the police prompt a detailed confession by asking leading questions or showing the suspect crime scene photos.

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