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Would you confess to a crime you did not commit?  You may say you would never falsely confess to a crime under any circumstance (especially those with great penalties), but the truth is, false confessions happen more often than you realize. 

For instance, take the case of Eddie Lowery.  Although Eddie Lowery deep now knew he was innocent of rape, he inevitably confessed and consequently spent 10 years of his life in prison until DNA evidence and the help of the Innocence Project exonerated him.

False confessions can occur for numerous reasons and some people may be more susceptible to falsely confess.  For example, the mentally ill and children are highly influenced by police during interrogation and subsequently confess more often than individuals who are not mentally ill or are adults.  Other circumstances, such as being deprived of food, water, and the restroom, being interrogated for hours on end (which happened in Lowery's case - he was interrogated for more than 7  hours), and in some instances being beaten,  also lead to more false confessions.   

Interrogations can also plant false memories in the suspect's head to the extent to which they become real (much like the lost in the  mall study described in class).  According to Professor Garrett who studies cases such as Lowery's, facts about the case can be intentionally or accidentally brought up in interrogation which plants a seed in the suspect's memory.  With constant contamination to the suspect's memory, these "seeds" can grow into evidence that one would think only the person responsible for the crime would know. 

Much like you and me, Garrett was shocked by the amount of contamination that had occurred in the cases he studied.  Interestingly, more than half of the cases he studied, the suspect was "mentally ill, under the age of 18, or both."  Along with that, most of the interrogations were lengthy and held in a pressuring environment.  Even more interesting, none of the cases Garrett studied had a lawyer present during interrogation. 

Although in some cases evidence that is leaked during interrogations in accidentally, Eddie Lowery felt that the police intentionally contaminated his memories.  According to Lowery, after he confessed, the police insisted he recall the process of the crime and corrected him when he got key facts incorrect.  For example, Lowery recalled this from his interrogation: "How did he get in (police asking Lowery how the rapist got into the house)" "I kicked in the front door" - Lowery, "But the rapist had used the back door" - Police.  Consequently, Lowery changed his story and admitted to going through the back door.

Why are false confessions so important? -- because juries are highly influenced by them when deciding on a verdict.  Despite being cleared by DNA evidence prior to going on trial, 8 of the individuals in Garrett's study were still found guilty and sent to jail.  Because juries are mostly interested in the details of the case and because false memories have been implanted in the suspect's brain, jury members tend to ignore other facts in the case and focus on the highly detailed confession.

If false confession are so common, what can be done to prevent them?  Some police departments have started videotaping interrogations, especially ones that could result in severe punishments (death penalty).  Ten states require videotaping and many supreme courts are encouraging tapings of interrogations. 

Keeping the case of Eddie Lowery and many others in mind, how do you feel about videotaping interrogations?  Do you feel it is necessary for all interrogations (even those where the consequence if found convicted is not severe) or just crimes that could possibly cause someone to serve the rest of their life in prison or even be put to death?  Are there better ways to reduce the occurrence of false confessions?  What do you feel can and/or needs to be done to free the dozens of innocent people currently serving time behind bars?


Here is a link to the article and more about Eddie's case.

(Thank you Alyssa for sharing!)

Bystander Apathy

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When I was in a social psychology class, we learned about the bystander effect. This is simply the fact that when with others, individuals act differently than they would alone. A huge case involving the bystander effect is the murder of Kitty Genovese in 1964. Kitty was 21 years old living in New York City. She managed a bar close to her apartment. One night, she was walking home late from work. Right outside her apartment, she was attacked and stabbed twice. She screamed but no one came to help her. The perpetrator left but returned 10 or so minutes later to find Kitty lying, barely conscious, by the back door. He continued to stab her, rape her, steal her money, and then leave. One man saw the first attack on Kitty and didn't call the police. Quite a few of the other tenants in the apartment building heard Kitty's screams but did not call the police either. This is the reason why this case is so well known. Many of the apartment tenants said they didn't want to get involved.

Four years after the murder, two psychologists did a study to try and figure out what the effect of bystanders had on people. They placed people in one room and were to speak through a microphone to the person in another room. The person on the other side, the confederate of the experiment, started to pretend he was having a seizure and even mumbled the words about dying. The psychologists found that the more people that were present, the longer it took for someone to act for respond to the person having the seizure. The people who didn't report the seizure said that the reason they didn't report it was because they wanted to abide by the rules of the experiment by staying in the other room apart from the confederate.

I think the bystander effect relates a lot to psychology and law. If someone is witnessing a crime, it's way less likely they'll report it if other people are present. It makes me wonder though if the bystanders being strangers has an affect on if people act or not. If I was surrounded by my friends, I think I would almost always react to someone getting murdered or having a seizure. People care a lot about what others think and sadly, this can have some negative effects.

This website is where I read about the bystander effect.

My sister in-law runs a daycare center and I worked there in the summer about three years ago which would make it 2007.  She had gotten a new family a girl, Allie, who was seven at the time and her brother Ryan who was five.  At first Allie seemed like a normal seven year old girl, but as the summer went on I noticed some things about her that were weird.  Some of these things were that she didn't like to be touched by any of the other boys at daycare.  She wouldn't really freak out, but if another daycare boy sat down beside her she would get up really fast and move.  If a daycare boy touched her, she would sometimes yell or say don't touch me.  This was the first sign that something was wrong.  Then I noticed that when my brother came home during his lunch break, Allie would be very clingy with me or my sister in-law, Michelle.  She was also very quiet child, which I just thought she was shy.  She did play really good with the other girls at daycare though.  Then I noticed that Allie didn't like to go to the bathroom or go into the bathroom.  Different times I saw Allie go into the bathroom and then I would see my sister in-law standing by the door with it shut, but she hand was inside the door.

I finally asked my sister in-law about Allie and she told me that Allie had been sexually abused since she was about one year old until she was almost five.  Allie, along with three other girls was abused by the babysitter's husband.  I learned that when Allie was round 20 months old the husband got a new job and started coming home during his lunch break.  According to the abused girls the husband would pick one of the four girls each day and abuse them in the bathroom.  He threatened them repeatedly so they wouldn't tell.   Finally one of the girls said something to their mom about the abuse and that's when everything came out.  When Allie was asked about the abuse, she finally told about it. 

According to the babysitter, she told police she had no idea that her husband was abusing these girls during his lunch break.  I find this very hard to believe that she wouldn't notice a child wasn't around.  I always noticed when a child got out of my site and I would go look for him/her right away.  I don't know all the details about the case, but I do know that the husband was arrested and convicted and the last time I know, no charges were brought against the babysitter. 

What happened to Allie just makes me stick.  She will have problems her entire life and that man took her childhood away from her.  I glad that he is in jail and I hope that the wife will be put in jail too.  I do know that Allie is doing better.  She has been in therapy since the abuse was found out.  Today she is in the fourth grade and is making great improvement.  She can know go to the bathroom by herself and she is getting better at being around boys.  She still had a long road ahead of her.  Just to see Allie somewhere you would never know that she was abused all of those years.   

The case I'm going to discuss is several years old but I found it very interesting and relevant to psychology and law. In 1992, a hunter found the body of a decomposing woman while hunting. After the police found out that the dead woman had been a prostitute, it led them to believe that a possible suspect was Thomas Huskey, a man known for bringing woman to the area. Huskey had a reputation for taking women, tying them up behind the zoo, beating them, and then having sex with them.

About a week after the first body was found, police searching the area found three more dead women. Huskey was arrested and confessed, on tape, to all four murders. During the confession, Huskey changed his voice and expressions and said that he was now "Kyle". Apparently, "Kyle" was the one who killed the women, not Thomas. After "Kyle" emerged, "Philip Daxx", a British man, surfaced. This lead investigators to believe that Huskey had multiple personality disorder.

After 6 years had passed, the trial finally began. Huskey plead not guilty by insanity. The defense psychologist said that Huskey suffered from multiple personality disorder, however, the prosecution psychologist said that Huskey simply created these personalities to manipulate the court. During the course of the trial, the cellmate of Huskey, testified that Huskey had read Sybil and was going to try to make it seem like he had multiple personality disorder to avoid the death penalty. Huskey's mother also agreed that he did not have this disorder. To further the case against Huskey, the prosecution noted that he gave specific details about the crime while he was Tom but if he really did have multiple personality disorder, he would have no recollection of these memories, since they belong to "Kyle".

After the jury deliberated for quite some time, they still had not come to a unanimous decision. The judge declared a mistrial. Huskey was to be tried again in 2002 but he asked for a lawyer during his confession, which was then ruled inadmissible. Huskey is currently in prison for 44 years for previous rape charges.

On another website, I found that the murder charges against Huskey were dropped due to detective errors. He is still in jail for the rape charges mentioned earlier.

Psychology is obviously present here. Because multiple personality disorder is so rare, it probably wasn't Huskey's  best idea to pretend he had it. Any personality disorder is severe and it's likely that Huskey may have had some other form of one. Although he wasn't proven guilty, it seems pretty possible that he did commit the four murders. I'm glad that he's at least in jail for the rape crimes he committed so that he can't go out and murder more innocent women. 

This article is about the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback being accused of sexual assault for the second time. I think this ties into the class because the case has been dropped from the DA for the lack of any evidence, so it seems that it is all hearsay evidence. This could be a case where the girl was trying to take advantage of the superstar by accusing him of assualting her, or it could be a case in which the prosecution just didnt have enough evidence to satisfy the burden of proof to convict Ben. Either way he is not going to get in trouble by the law for whatever happened however he may be suspended by the league for violating the players code of conduct policy. Ben has been accused of assaulting a girl before and it makes people wonder if girls are just trying to take advantage of a celebrity or is he getting away with these assaults because of lack of evidence. The prosecution pretty much said in their press conference that they are confident that Ben assaulted the girl but cannot prove without a reasonable doubt to a jury that he is responsible, also it did not help that the girl, for some reason, did not want to press charges. The medicial examiner said they found male DNA but not enough to make a DNA profile. I think this would have come to a different outcome if they were in fact able to get a DNA profile from the sample.The case shows that there is in fact a burden of proof that needs to be satisfied for the DA to persue a case, and do not just go after people to punish them for supposably committing crimes.  
Hank Skinner was blamed for a triple homicide in 1993 in which he supposedly killed his girlfriend at the time, Twila Busby, and her two grown sons. He was convicted of the crimes and has been on death row since. Skinner's former attorney did not test the crime scene evidence for his clients DNA. Skinner claims his innocence and also says that his ex girlfriend's uncle was the responsible party. A neighbor of Twila Busby's uncle claims that they seen the uncle tearing out and replacing carpet in his van the day after the murders. Northwestern University's Innocence Project is to thank for shedding doubt onto the case and bringing it to prosecutors attention. Skinner's request for a blood DNA test has delayed the execution and rightfully so since there is still time to prove his innocence given the nature of all these "new" details. The stop of execution came one hour before Skinner was to be executed.

Rape Myths

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This is a list of common myths about rape. There are several important aspects which relate to psychology. One of the most important of these aspects is that rape is not usually about sex,  in the sense that it does not occur because the rapist is sexually attracted to the witness. (This is not the primary motive) The motivation is typically about power and control.  This is important to consider, because of implications for educating people on avoiding being put into dangerous situations, and for how investigators can potentially solve a case.

Sexual Predators Contained After Jail Time

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In the article it gives a first hand account of a boy that was kidnapped and sexually assulted that is now an advocate for others that have also been sexually assulted.  They support a procedure that many states already have in place and that is a detention sort of program for sex offeneders when they get out of prison and what it does is it serves as a coaching program on how to cope in the world around them now that they are out and they oppertunity is there for them to commit a crime again. The program is state funded and has psychological staff on hand to help these previous offenders fight their urge soon as they are out of prison. But they also get into the other side of things and have previous sex offenders that advocate civil rights and say that the right due process is being over turned.  The basic question is, is it legal to hold someone even after they serve their time for the crime they commited? My personal opinion is in the case of sexual predators YES. They not only broke a law but they aslo violated another person against their will. They deserve to be thought how to control those anti-social behavior because jail time alone does not deter offenders from reapting those crime in most cases it simple puts their fantasizes on ice until they get out again.  

The Most Dangerous Game

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While reading the novel Mind Hunter by John Douglas for my book report assignment, I came across a particularly interesting case. In the early 1980's Robert Hansen went on a murderous rampage that shocked the community of Anchorage, Alaska. Hansen, known throughout his community as a mild mannered baker with a strong affinity for hunting, was abducting local prostitutes and strippers, taking them back to his home while he raped and tortured them, then flew them out to his cabin in the woods where he promised if they cooperated they would be released. He would then let them go naked through the wooded area where he would hunt them down.


I was very interested in this case for two reasons. The first reason was that the killers MO closely followed one of my favorite short stories that I read in High School; The Most Dangerous Game by Richard Connell. The story is about some shipwrecked sailors who find themselves being systematically hunted down one-by-one through an island jungle. They are hunted by a man named General Zarroff, who tired of hunting animals and wanted more of a challenge. In Douglas's novel, he cites many similarities between Hansen and Zarroff, not only in MO. According to Douglas, Hansen felt that by killing prostitutes and women he felt were degenerate, he was doing society a favor. Likewise Zarroff felt that shipmen were degenerates and tramps.


The second reason that I found this case so interesting was because the killer, Robert Hansen started his criminal career about 40 miles from where I grew up; in small town Pocahontas, IA. In the 1960, Hansen served as a police academy instructor in Pocahontas. Later that year he was arrested for burning down a school bus garage and was sentenced to jail for 4 years. It was after this time that he moved to Alaska. Because Hansen had moved away from the area nearly 20 years before he started his killing spree, I was unaware of his existence and my friends from that area were also unaware. Digging a little deeper into Hansen's past, I discovered he was born in Estherville, Iowa; the small town where both of my parents grew up, but again, because Hansen hadn't lived there since before my parents were born, they were unfamiliar with the case. However, I do plan on asking my grandparents if they are at all familiar with Hansen since he would be closer to their age.

One of the themes that Douglas talks about in his book is that Hansen is an excellent example of how a killers MO changes and develops with each kill. In his earlier killings of prostitutes, Hansen would simply tie them up and kill them execution style, then fly their bodies and level them in the wooded area near his cabin. As he became more confident in his killings, Hansen began to torture his victims and then finally began to hunt them like animals. It is because of this sort of changing pattern that it makes a series of murders hard to tie together. If four women are murdered in different ways, people assume that it is a different killer. Douglas argues that MO can change while significance of the murder does not change. In this case, we see Hansen's method of killing change but they are all related in how they spoke to Hansen personally. He liked the thrill of the hunt, and he went after high-risk individuals such as prostitutes.  


This is an article that deals with the argument of whether there needs to be more laws dealing with predators or whether the current laws need to be better enforced. The story here is of a man who has been convicted of raping and killing a young girl who was jogging through a park. Police have also discovered the skeletal remains of another young girl, who was killed in similar fashion, and they think that the same man is responsible. The main issue here is that the man was locked up for the crime but somehow struck a deal to only get 6 years in prison instead of his original sentence which was life in prison. This happened in the San Diego area where they do in fact have a "one-strike" law against predators. The problem here seems to be that the courts become to lenient when its time for sentencing. In my opinion I feel that the San Diego law of "one-strike" is quite the consequence, but when a predator gets out after only a short time, it raises the threat of repeat offenders. When the courts give out such a short sentence for the crime, they are really eliciting thoughts of "hey I can do this again!" from the minds of predators. I'm not sure that California needs to crowd their prisons anymore than they already are, but lackluster sentences (in regards to these crimes) is a slap in the face to society - my opinion.

The Life of Jaycee Dugard

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Many people have probably heard about Jaycee Dugard, but if not, here is a little glimps into her life. Jaycee was kidnapped on June 10th, 1991. She was 11 years old at the time. She was abducted at her bus stop by Phillip Garrido. She was missing for over 18 years. She encountered several years of sexual assault and rape by Garrido and his wife Nancy. Garrido's unusual behavior at his parole meeting is what set a spark to the investigation. Jaycee was rescued after more then 18 years after her abduction. Convicted sex offender Garrido and Nancy, are awaiting trial on charges of kiddnapping and sexually assauting Jaycee for years while they keeping her hidden in a tent in their back yard. Jaycee also has two children; Garrido is the father.

This type of event shows the holes in our legal system as well as all the sick people we have out on the streets! On several occasions authorities failed to make a connection with Garrido and Jaycee Dugard. There were many missed opportunities. If you are interested in learning more follow the links I have provided:

Murders by Unlisted Sex Offender

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In this article it states that there are 63,000 sex offenders that are not registered and 22,000 of those are in California alone. Some of those the state defends are "low risk in general" yet there are innocent people killed by those low risk offenders. And the main one I want to talk about is Chelsea King whose body they found yesterday. 

This article goes more into detail about the case it self and explains that this may be a capital punishment case because it was a rape and murder case. If the DA decides to take the death penalty off the table then it is still 25 to life in prison. The reason for his arrest was due to DNA evidence found on his clothing.

The psychiatrist for the case wants the offender to be put in prison for as long as possible because of his previous charge that he served 6 years in prison for before paroled in 2008.

To those that take the time to read the article I would love to get your opinion on what should be done about our system the allows sex offenders to slip through the cracks and commit worse crimes then before and also I question if a person has show to be capable of such evil once if they should be allowed back into society without strict supervision?


"One in five college women will be raped, or experience an attempted rape, before graduation."

"Less than 5 percent will report these crimes to officials..."

 (image from

This article from CNN shows a very shocking statistic. The article goes on to talk about the problem at universities today. I agree with the article in that this is something that seems to be not talked about often and even ignored. It's so scary to think of how many cases of rape go unreported.

Last year I had the privilege of working with the UNI's Interpreter's Theater to put on a show called, "Until Someone Wakes Up". This play directly addresses the problem of rape. Before being cast as a role in this play I was informed very little about the problem of rape. But through this play I learned a lot about how much of a problem this is even today. Many of the scenes were extremely uncomfortable and hard to get into character for. Let's face it, it isn't the easiest or most fun to act out a scene of a girl telling her parents she was raped. Many times I didn't want to get into character. I didn't want to think about what it would be like to be a victim of rape. Many of the actors involved would somewhat break down emotionally when really getting into these roles. One of the scenes that most sticks out in my mind was a scene about the shame that comes from being raped. Many girls don't report it simply because they feel such shame in what has happened. As a college woman I strive to not put myself in those bad situations, but I feel like as a college student I need to address that this is a problem, and not to pretend like this problem doesn't exist.  

This article is about a pediatrician from Delaware who has been accused of sexually abusing 103 children.  This article stood out to me because it shows how people can be so messed up that they will use their job to satisfy their sick obsessions.  The article said that there has been video tapes found so the man is going to be charged without a doubt.  It also said that the man's mental health will be questioned to see how he is charged. I understand that people can suffer from serious mental illnesses but i just don't see how they can blame all 103 cases on this man's mental health.

This is a very interesting article about how the point of a finger gave a man a 50 year prison sentence on a rape charge.

Three days after the rape, Detective Gauldin called the rape victim Jennifer Thompson in to do a photo lineup. He lay six pictures down on the table, said the perpetrator may or may not be one of them, and told her to take her time.

Thompson did not immediately identify a photo, taking her time to study each picture.

"I can remember almost feeling like I was at an SAT test. You know, where you start narrowing down your choices. You can discount A and B," Thompson said.

I find it so interesting that the flaws of eyewitness identification can be so obvious. When taking a multiple choice test you being narrowing down the answers. When you come down to the bottom two you seem to make an educated guess. When dealing with 50 years in prison, I would hope the question only has one obvious answer, and isn't multiple choice.;contentBody

Throughout this class we have dealt with many aspect of witness identification. Through the construct a line up project I was amazed at how many people actually guessed the suspect right. So not only is this whole process biased in that a person basically picks as a multiple choice guess sometimes, but also that a line up can be very biased. Many line ups are made with an obvious answer to be picked. Many of think us probably think, so what! That person is probably guilty. However, in this above case we see that a man was wrongly picked from a line up and the consequence was major jail time. When picking out of a line up the person is basically choosing the course for the person. We also learned in class that eye witnesses are of HUGE impact to a jury. This can also lead to false testifying which can easily sway a jury. It starts to make you really reflect upon our justice system and the ways that eye witnesses, juries, and even line ups can be extremely biased.

The above article is about a man who was arrested on charges of raping a 13 year old girl and keeping her locked in his house for 6 months. The man plead not guilty and his neighbors, after being interviewed, claimed that they were confused by the accusation. A good friend of Abdallah  claimed that the 13 year old was very developed and told her that she was 17 or 18 and denied having sex with Abdallah. This good friend also said that the 13 year old was calling someone in her family to say that she was okay and that they knew where she was staying What confused me most about this story was how all of the neighbors thought of him to be a good man. Some of them also said they had never seen Abdallah with a 13 year old. It seems like there needs to be some investigating into this story. Another fact thrown in the mix was that the 13 year olds family filed a missing persons report months earlier. Maybe the good friend was in on the whole thing? It's a pretty shady case and I hope justice gets served correctly.

"Jerusalem (CNN) -- An Israeli man accused of having 23 wives and fathering 59 children was charged Sunday in a Tel Aviv court with multiple counts of sexual assault, rape, sodomy and enslavement..."

Goel Ratzon was arrested last month on the above mentioned charges against some of his numerous daughters. He convinced these women that he was "omnipotent" and that he could perform miraculous acts.

"...He persuaded the women that he had the power to heal and curse, through which he gained "complete control of their lives, desires, thoughts, emotions and actions," the court papers say...."

 They served him, and used their own finances to pay for everything he wanted and needed. The wives and children all lived in a compound together, obeying him in every way.

The Israeli government had known about his cult for about a decade, but it wasn't until about 6 months ago that they convinced one of the women to press charges.

As many of us come into our choice of major such as Psychology, Family Services, Social Work etc. we will be forced to come across disturbing subjects like Sexual Child Abuse. It takes a special person and state of mind to work with these children and really understand what they go through psychologically and physically.

This is an article in great detail about the psychological effects on Children who are sexually abused. It takes you though their minds and what children who have been abused tend to think and act. This article will briefly expand on the long term effects of sexual abuse and take you through two Syndromes associated with sexual child abuse: The Stockholm Syndrome & The Child Abuse Accommodation Syndrome.

These children also go through depression and the emotions tied with depression. They have fear, anger, hopelessness, betrayal, sadness, and every other emotion. A person working with these children really has to understand what those emotions feel like to the child. This article better helps explain these emotions.

It also has a section on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, PTSD. This is a memory or fear that springs up at any given time due to a traumatic event that has happened in your life. It is something most children live with once they are the victim of sexual abuse.

I hope this easy read article helps some of you going into a career that handles cases like this. 


Super Bowl Killing

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In 2004 Carlie Brucia was reported missing by her mother after she never made didn't arrive home from her fiends house (a 15-20 min walk). Carlie was abducted in a car wash parking lot the night of the super bowl in 2004 and later that night was brutally murdered. The interesting thing about this case was not that she was abducted an murdered but it was how the manatee sheriffs department responded to her mothers request for an amber alert. Since the mother reported her daughter missing after approximately 10 min of her being abducted the police department had to inclination that a crime had been committed. It wasn't until 18 hours later when the police saw the video tape of her abductor via the car wash security camera was an amber alter released. Many people came forward stating they new who the guy in the video was; Joe Smith, cocaine addict. In the article below you read about Smiths addiction to cocaine, how he went into relapse and how the night of the super bowl his intentions were not to kill Carlie but to kill himself. The article takes you through the entire case from her abduction, her murder, and into the trial. In the end Smith is sentenced to execution.  It is apparent that if the manatee sheriffs department would have issued an amber alert sooner maybe she would be alive today.

BTK Killer-The Complete Story

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The life and story of the BTK killer, also known as Dennis Rader. This 53 page story takes you through everything! His life as the BTK killer in Wichita, Kansas and his life as Dennis Rader in Wichita, Kansas. This is a chilling story that gives you the complete facts, details, and photgraphs. It is worth reading!