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CJRA and COSSA to Host “Ask a Criminologist” Panel on Technology and Policing

The Crime & Justice Research Alliance (CJRA) (a collaborative effort of the Academy of Criminal Justice Science and the American Society of Criminology, both COSSA members) and COSSA will be hosting the second in a series of “Ask a Criminologist” Congressional briefings on Wednesday, June 21. This interactive event will feature criminologist experts who will provide an overview of research on the latest technologies police are using across the country. Experts include CJRA Chair Dr. Nancy La Vigne of The Urban Institute, Dr. Cynthia Lum of George Mason University, Dr. Eric Piza of John Jay College, and Eddie Reyes of the Police Foundation. More information, and a link to RSVP, can be found here.

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Posted in Issue 12 (June 13), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

Congressional Briefing on Violence Prevention

The Center for Evidence-Based Crime Policy and WestEd’s Justice and Prevention Research Center are hosting a Congressional Briefing on Tuesday, September 27 on violence and violence prevention. Topics covered will include strategies for violence prevention, patterns of violence, as well as the influences and costs of violence. Nancy Rodriguez, the Director of the National Institute of Justice, will introduce a diverse panel of experts from the public, academic, and non-profit sectors, including COSSA board member and Director of the Urban Institute’s Justice Policy Center Nancy La Vigne. Register to attend the briefing here.

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Posted in Issue 17 (September 6), Update, Volume 35 (2016)

COSSA and CJRA Host “Ask a Criminologist” Congressional Roundtable on Increasing Homicide Rates

DSC_0998 (1)On July 7, COSSA and the Crime and Justice Research Alliance (CJRA) hosted the first in a series of “Ask a Criminologist” Congressional Roundtables. This briefing highlighted the work of Dr. Richard Rosenfeld of the University of Missouri, St. Louis on possible research directions to identify the causes of the sharp increase in U.S. homicides in 2015 (slides available here). Dr. Rosenfeld presented to over 130 attendees and was joined by CJRA chair Dr. Nancy La Vigne and Washington Post crime reporter Tom Jackman for a panel discussion and audience questions.

The audience of Capitol Hill staff and community stakeholders asked questions about the effectiveness and prevalence of community policing, the role of the federal government in both decreasing the homicide rate and keeping track of the homicides that occur, and how confidence can be restored in police departments. Attendees also inquired as to the next steps in research on the homicide increase, including whether demographics, changing gun laws, or comparisons of cities should be included in the analysis.

More information about the Crime & Justice Research Alliance can be found here. Rosenfeld’s National Institute of Justice-commissioned research can be found here.

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Posted in Issue 14 (July 12), Update, Volume 35 (2016)

APA Briefing Explains the Psychology behind False Confessions

The American Psychological Association (APA), a COSSA governing member, held a Congressional briefing on April 29, in conjunction with the Coalition for National Science Funding (CNSF) Exhibition. The briefing featured Saul Kassin, Distinguished Professor of Psychology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice (also a COSSA member), who spoke about his research on false confessions. Kassin observed that it is often difficult for people to understand why someone would admit to a crime they did not commit. However, in his analysis of a database of convictions overturned by DNA evidence, Kassin found that more than a quarter of the wrongly convicted individuals had made a confession.

Kassin’s talk was divided into two sections: “Why innocent people confess” and “Why confessions trump innocence.” In the first section, he described some of the harrowing experiences of individuals who had been wrongly convicted after confessing and explained some of the factors that put suspects at risk of making a false confession. These include vulnerability of the suspect, interrogation tactics like lying about evidence or prolonging the interview, and suspects’ belief that the fact their innocence will absolve them of charges, regardless of what they do or say during the police interrogation. In the second section of his talk, Kassin noted that for most people, a confession means that a person is guilty. However, few people can differentiate a false confession from a real one, and juries are overwhelmingly swayed by confessions—even in cases where they are told to disregard it. Furthermore, innocent people who have confessed are more likely to take a guilty plea than those who have not, because they know how strongly their confession will count against them in the courtroom.

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Posted in Issue 8 (May 5), Update, Volume 34 (2015)

NRC Releases Implementing Juvenile Justice Reform Report

This month, the Committee on Law and Justice within the National Research Council’s Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education (DBASSE) released a report, Implementing Juvenile Justice Reform: The Federal Role. The report is a follow-on to the 2013 report, Reforming Juvenile Justice: A Developmental Approach, and is “designed to provide specific guidance to [the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) in the Department of Justice] regarding the steps that it should take, both internally and externally, to facilitate juvenile justice reform grounded in knowledge about adolescent development and effective interventions.”

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Posted in Issue 16 (September 8), Update, Volume 33 (2014)

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