‘Crime’

Confessions, Forensic Psychology, and DNA Evidence

criminal confession

One of the tasks of a forensic psychologist is to interview an alleged perpetrator who has given a confession with an eye toward judging whether the person understands the gravity of having confessed and whether he or she understands what it is that has been confessed. It has been discovered that confessions are not always the last word in accuracy and that they can be extracted in a variety of ways. Once there is a confession, efforts to locate new or contradictory evidence concerning a case might be diminished or completely cease. A Famous Example For example, Juan Rivera confessed to the rape and murder of an 11-year-old girl in Lake County, Illinois. However, the DNA evidence taken from the girl didn’t match Rivera’s. The prosecution theorized that she had had consensual sex with someone else and that Rivera had killed her in a fit of rage when he was unable to perform. Rivera was convicted. Fortunately, the story has a somewhat better ending than might be expected. Two weeks later the appellate court threw out the confession, and Rivera was not only exonerated, he was awarded… Read More

Forensic Psychologists Examine Why Criminals Post Crimes on Social Media

social media used to post evidence of criminal activity

For those of us who live quiet, law-abiding lives, it seems difficult to imagine why anyone would incriminate themselves by posting videos of a crime in progress, or activity leading up to a crime. Yet an article in the Guardian reports that crime connected with social media have risen 780% over the last four years. The posts ranged from grooming, stalking, and preparatory statements to “selfies” of violent crimes in progress. Police are challenged with having to walk a fine line between allowing freedom of speech and getting ahead of real threats. Forensic Psychologist Look for Causes Forensic psychologists are examining this phenomenon and have come to one conclusion: the people who are posting videos of violent crimes against humans, and those who post videos of cruel behavior toward animals, are seeking attention. They want to be noticed for their actions. It isn’t new behavior. Jack the Ripper, for example, sent letters about his crimes all over London. The investigative tools now available were in their infancy, so despite publicity, he wasn’t caught. Why Study the Behavior How Stuff Works has an entry that delves into the… Read More