Eyewitness identifications not always shaky: confidence predicts accuracy.

April 2017

Not all eyewitness identifications should be discarded, because in certain circumstances they are accurate, according to a new report in the journal Psychological Science in the Public Interest.

The key: eyewitnesses have to feel confident and the timing and conditions of when they identify suspects have to be "pristine." But law enforcement agencies don't always use methods that create such pristine conditions, according to School of Social Ecology professors Beth Loftus and Rachel Greenspan, who wrote a commentary for the new report. The report and commentary were mentioned in an article in Forensic Magazine.

"This reality raises the question of what conclusions can be drawn in the many instances when conditions are not pristine," the article says.

Wrongful conviction registry now housed at School of Social Ecology

April 2017

The 2,000-plus wrongful convictions compiled in UCI's National Registry of Exonerations are just scratching the surface, according to Maurice Possley, a senior researcher for the registry. Tracking down and verifying those wrongful convictions -- which stem from misleading evidence, mistaken witness identification, false accusation, official misconduct and inadequate legal defense -- is a laborious process that relies on published news reports and exonerated defendants coming forward.

Rylan Simpson advances to finals of Grad Slam challenge

April 2017

Rylan Simpson, a graduate student at the Irvine Laboratory for the Study of Space and Crime, advanced to the files of the UCI Grad Slam Research Program for his research on the public perceptions of police officers. Grad Slam is a systemwide competition that showcases and awards the best three-minute research presentations by graduate scholars. Finals will be held on April 11 in the Newkirk Alumni Center at 3 p.m. Contestants will give their three-minute research presentations in front of a panel of judges and a live audience.

Inside the hole: what happens to the mind in isolation

April 2017

Keramet Reiter, assistant professor of criminology, law and society, discussed the effects of solitary confinement on prisoners during a 25-minute interview with NPR's "Hidden Brain." Reiter also recently published the book 23/7: Pelican Bay Prison and the Rise of Long-Term Solitary Confinement.

Prisoners locked in solitary, 8-foot by 10-foot cells -- the size of a parking space -- often stay there for years and even decades. Suicide rates are double that of the rest of the prison population. African American and Latino prisoners are twice as likely as the general prison population to end up there, while prison officials also often send mentally ill, transgender and pregnant prisoners to solitary.

"Prison systems are not putting people there based on some act or rule that they broke, but based on their status as dangerous. Some prisoners get labeled dangerous gang members and they get sent to isolation indefinitely ... It's often the people who are really difficult for the system to manage," Reiter tells NPR.

Listen to the interview.

The reason sanctuary churches go public with immigrant stories

March 2017

Susan Bibler Coutin, professor of criminology, law and society and anthropology, discussed the history of the sanctuary church movement with NPR's Code Switch. Churches today are responding to President Trump's immigration crackdown by shielding immigrants who face deportation, and allowing them take sanctuary at church, where immigration agents usually don't arrest them. Churches did the same thing in the 1980s, when Central Americans fleeing war in their home countries came to the U.S. -- and faced potential deportation. Churches went public with those stories, and led a movement that ended up changing culture and policy.

Why Trump won't reduce crime by shutting the door on immigrants

March 2017

Charis Kubrin, professor of Criminology, Law and Society, is quoted in Univsion News discussing her research on how immigration affects crime levels. Contrary to what many people believe, Kubrin found that greater levels of immigration in a community correlated with lower levels of crime. Her study, co-authored with Graham Ousey of the College of William and Mary, will be published in the inaugural issue of The Annual Review of Criminology.