Final Work Book Essay Example

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Final Work Book 11

Final Work Book

  • Lineup instruction bias

This can be avoided by informing the witness that the perpetrator may be present in the line up or not, and that regardless of the result, investigation will go on. This will reduce the pressure on the witness where they feel that they have to identify the perpetrator.

  • Clothing bias

Clothing bias can be avoided by ensuring that the clothing of all suspects does not match the witnesses’ description. A clothing lineup can also be created where the witness is told to identify the clothing independently and not looking at the person (lecture 3).

  • Perceptual expertise theories

This theory explains that increased exposure to a person of similar race makes people to develop greater expertise in processing facial features of their own race.

  • Social cognitive theories

This theory explains people categorically think about other races, and also categorically process and encode their identifying features. On the hand, thinking about own race is individually and so as processing and encoding their identifying features (lecture 2).

Alternative hypothesis: According to this theory post-event information alters and transforms the original memory into a new memory.

Coexistence theory: explains that both original and altered memories coexist.

Source misattribution theory explains that post-event information is attributed to the original memory (lecture 2).

It has additional recall attempts that replace the varied retrieval techniques. It is also comparable to the original cognitive interview and it takes less time to administer (lecture 3).

Confirmation bias refers to the tendency to strengthen a hypothesis by searching for consistent evidence while at the same time minimizing evidence that is inconsistent. It happens unintentionally and unconsciously.

According to one research, 108 mock investigators are grouped into two and each group reads a case file. The first part of the case file points towards a particular suspect while the other part points to likelihood of another suspect. The fist group stopped after reading the case halfway to form a hypothesis about the likely offender before reading the rest of the case. The second group read uninterrupted and came across a number suspects. The aim was to determine how a hypothesis can be formed in an investigator’s memory (Lecture 4).

The Case: Dante Arthurs (2003/2006).

In 2003, the charges were dropped due to lack of evidence, in 2006, Arthurs attacked and murdered Sofia Rodriguez-Urrutia Shu and in 2007, the corruption commission took off investigations for the 2003 police investigation.

Case: Andrew Mallard

In 1995, he was convicted of murdering Pamela Lawrence, the conviction was then squashed by the High Court of Australia in 2006. The same year, Western Australia reviewed how the original investigation was handled and conducted a cold case review of the original murder case. In 2008, Corruption and Crime Commission conducted its inquiry.

The aim of the reforms was to ensure that there is quality and standardised detective practices across the agency (Lecture 5).

Lack of motivation where people prefer to be ignorant in some situations

Difficulty of the cases: Some lack verbal and non-verbal cues while others are full of lies.

Errors resulting from use of the wrong cues and neglecting interpersonal and intrapersonal differences (Lecture 7).

The theory states that the ability of an individual to process information and reason out complex concepts develops as they progress through the four stages of development. That is, sensorimotor stage (birth-2 years), preoperational stage (2-7 years), concrete operational stage (7-11 years) and formal operational stage (12 years to adulthood) (Lecture 8).

The model by Carlson & Russo, (2001) explains that jurors hold a dominant story that has the best account of the trial information. The story leads to biased interpretations and evaluations which are then driven by coherence to certainty principle. Sometimes the dominant story can change but it is not easy for the jurors to change to an opposing verdict (Lecture 10).

Compliance is normative influence where opinion is changed publicly and not privately while conversion is informative influence where opinion changes both publicly and privately (Lecture 10).


Extra-legal factors that influence sentencing


In various countries, the constitution requires equal treatment of all defendants before the law. However, various disparities have been observed among sentencing in similar cases. Disparities have been influenced by attitude towards the type of crime committed and also the offender’s factors such as sex, race and attractiveness among others. This essay looks at various research findings regarding the effect of defendant factors on sentencing decisions.

Effect of defendant factors

Research by Hofer, Blackwell, & Ruback (1999) on racial and ethnic disparity

was conducted in U.S among citizens who were sentenced under the guidelines of the United States Federal Sentencing Commission for the past five years. The group also included non-citizens who were not white, different gender, age and college attendance. The research aimed at assessing the legal weight judges put on some offender’s factors differently that the requirements of the guidelines. In finding out the influence of race on decision to imprison, the study found that Black or Hispanic offenders were at higher chances of being imprisoned compared to the white offenders. Regarding the length of imprisonment, the black offenders involved in drug trafficking could receive a ten percent longer sentence than a white drug trafficker.

Another study by Hofer, Blackwell, & Ruback (1999) also found disparities based on the race of the offender. Bias was observed when dealing with the black offenders compared to while offenders. This was observed at all levels of the criminal justice system starting from when the victim reports the crime, when the police officer arrests the suspect, how the prosecutor presses the charges, the juror’s evaluation of the witness credibility and their sentencing decision.

A study by Sweeney and Haney (1992) found that black defendants received more harsh treatment more so in cases regarding murder and rape compared to the white defendants. Racial bias was also observed on the decision made by White mock jurors on White defendants where the jurors gave longer sentences to black defendants than the white defendants.

Study by Mazzella and Feingold (1994) found that there was a bias on the type of crime and certain races. For fraud crimes, white defendants were given longer sentences that black defendant while for negligent homicide crimes, sentences for black defendants was longer than for white defendants.

Hofer, Blackwell, & Ruback (1999) identified a gap between the prison terms for male and female offenders. Disparities were observed on drug trafficking offences and on non-drug related offences. A male drug offender was found to have twice the chances of being imprisoned compared to a female drug offender. Length of imprisonment was also found to be 20-30 percent longer for cases of male offenders than those of female offenders.

A study by Steffensmeier & Demuth (2006) found out that despite the race of the offender, punishment for female offenders was less harsh than for male offenders. This was attributed to stereotypes that women are perceived less dangerous and often not guilty and also possessing stronger ties with the community for example through their children, and are therefore less likely to engage in crime.

Demleitner (1995) found that in criminal conspiracies, women are in most cases not culpable but are usually subjected to longer sentences because of the conduct of their accomplices, some whom they are emotionally attached. Judges are also likely to be more strict when applying sentencing guidelines on female offenders in cases dominated by male accomplices.

Attractiveness and baby-facedness

In another research by Izzett and Fishman (1976) offender attractiveness and baby-facedness was found to influence sentencing decision. Criminal stereotypes were identified on association of certain crimes with certain facial appearance. Baby-facedness was described as having larger eyes, higher eyebrows, a small chin and a large forehead. Such a look was associated with attractiveness and honesty. Various studies therefore found that the defendant’s attractiveness and baby-facedness affects the judge’s sentencing decision. Similarly, baby-facedness of the plaintiff also influenced the judge’s decision on the offender.

Study by Mazzella and Feingold (1994) on influence of defendant’s physical attractiveness found that physically attractive defendants were less likely to be found guilty compared to those considered to be physically unattractive. This stereotype was also observed on punishment for particular crimes where if those considered attractive are convicted, they are likely to receive a less harsh punishment compared to those considered physically unattractive. The bias however was also found to differ with the crime. For crimes such as rape, robbery and cheating, attractive defendants were given harsher punishments than unattractive defendants, while on crimes of negligence homicide and deceiving, unattractive defendants received harsher punishments.


Sentencing guidelines exist to eliminate disparities and bias while sentencing. However, judges have in most cases been biased based on offenders’ characteristics. These factors may deny justice to the offender and this creates a faulty criminal justice system. However, it is difficult to eliminate the influence of the non-legal factors because of the human aspect of the judges. Judging is a human process and is subject to human influence.


Mazzella, R., & Feingold, A. (1994). The effects of physical attractiveness, race, socioeconomic status, and gender of defendants and victims on judgments of mock jurors: A meta-analysis. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 24, 1315-1344.

Hofer, P. J., Blackwell, K. R., & Ruback, R. B. (1999). Effect of the sentencing guidelines on inter-judge sentencing disparity. Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, 90(1), 239−306.

Sweeney, L. T., & Haney, C. (1992). The influence of race on sentencing: A meta-analytic review of experimental studies. Behavioral Sciences and the Law, 10,179–195

Izzett , R. , & Fishman , L. ( 1976 ). Defendant sentences as a function of attractiveness and justification for actions. Journal of Social Psychology, 100, 285 – 290.

Demleitner, N. (1995). ‘Editor’s Observations: Women, Men, Gender, Sex, Congress and the Guidelines’. Federal Sentencing Reporter 8(3): 132.

Steffensmeier , D. , & Demuth , S. ( 2006 ). Does gender modify the effects of race – ethnicity on criminal sanctioning? Sentences for male and female white, black and Hispanic defendants . Journal of Quantitative Criminology, 2 2 , 2 4 1 – 2 6 1 .

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