Zimbardo, Milgram, and Asch: What they mean to Criminal Justice

First, I want to touch on the Asch conformity study and what it means to criminal justice. Asch conducted a study with six people at a table. Only one of them was a true test subject and the other five were actors taking part in the study. They were shown a series of posters with a line on the left and three numbered lines on the right. The goal was to say the numberĀ  of the line that matched the length of the line on the left. For the first two, everyone said the right answer. However, after that, the actors would say the wrong answer. The test subject, even though knowing what the right answer was, would also say the wrong answer so to not “make waves”. This can show why it is important to separate people when responding to a scene. It is easy to get tainted eye witness testimonies and that is one of the leading causes of innocent people being found guilty and going to prison (The Innocence Project). Here is a video on the Asch conformity study:

Next is Milgram. He conducted a study in which there was truly only one test subject and the other two people were actors, unknown to the test subject. One actor would act as a student, the test subject would act as a teacher, and the other actor would act as a professor conducting the experiment. The student would be strapped into a chair hooked to a system that delivers electric shocks in increasing increments. The teacher (the test subject) would ask question and everytime the student got a wrong answer, an electric shock would be administered, going from lightest shock to a fatal amount of 450 volts. Milgram found that 65% would continue the experiment, even though they knew they were possibly going to kill the student. The reason was because the professor was urging them on. The experiment shows that when instructions come from an authority figure, people may be more willing to commit acts of violence that they wouldn’t normally do on their own. Parallels have been drawn to the Nazis on trial saying that they were just doing what they were told and Nuremberg telling them that wasn’t good enough, that they should have known to stop. This is extremely important in today’s world. It is important to understand this dynamic in law enforcement and in the prison environment and people must anticipate it and make measures to constantly battle this tendency. Here is a video on an updated version of Milgram’s experiment:

This video is in three parts:

Finally, we come to perhaps the most controversial experiment to date: The Stanford Prison Experiment by Philip G. Zimbardo. In this experiment he created a prison setting in the basement at Stanford University. He had a number of volunteers, some acting as prisoners, and the rest as prison guards with himself like a warden. He would uncover some disturbing behavior out of normal people when placed in such a setting. Guard abuse became apparent in a short amount of time. Zimbardo was excitedly telling another professor about the experiment when she called out the ethics violations in letting the experiment continue and Zimbardo pulled the plug, ending it early. In today’s world, this treatment has been linked to places such as Abu Ghraib where authority and abuse can become infectious and those in charge do nothing to stop it. Below is a video about the experiment:

All of these experiments and studies are very important in the criminal justice field. There needs to be checks and balances to stop things such as wrong eye witness identification, abuse and torture, as well as authorities getting a bloated sense of the situation and acting in ways they normally would not when outside the situation. People place a lot of trust in the criminal justice field and when it fails, that trust is lost and likely isn’t gained back by those that were wronged. There is not much in the way of accountability as when there is abuse, the chances are paid desk duty during investigation by an inside department and a very light discipline, if any at all. This stops the justice process and undermines what the field is supposed to be doing – seeking justice.

Have you found yourself in similar situations? Have you conformed when you knew it was wrong? I’m sure the vast majority of people have, especially if coming up in public schools where conformity is preferred to individuality. How about the issues of abuse? Ever pick on someone in school because everyone else was? It’s likely a lot of people have, even if they don’t realize it. What have you learned from these experiences so that you can avoid repeating those actions again? Take some time and think about it…

* Cover photo from: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bob-cesca/waterboarding-vs-hammers-_b_76419.html

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9 things everyone should know about the drug Molly – CNN.com

9 things everyone should know about the drug Molly – CNN.com.

Synthetic drugs are big news lately. Some call them zombie drugs because the user may have a psychotic break and actually eat living creatures, including humans (I prefer the term Reavers since zombies are dead people and Reavers are not. If you don’t know what Reavers are, get to Netflix and watch Firefly – you will not regret it!). A lot of people are curious about why synthetics are so popular and so dangerous and the answer is actually quite simple: they are cheaper and easier to acquire. Synthetic drugs are the response to the failed Drug War. You want Ecstasy but can\’t get it? Here! Try a Molly! But the dealers won\’t tell you they are not really Ecstasy and are really a bunch of chemicals (mostly from China). Or they do and you don\’t care. Next thing you know you are imprisoned for yanking your girlfriend\’s stomach out of her rear. Not kidding, that really did happen: Dreamin\’ Demon – “Man HIgh on Molly Pulled Pieace of Woman\’s Stomach out of her ass”.

I posted some information and a video about krokodil a while back on my Facebook page. People were asking why people would take something so dangerous. In that case, people that were hooked on heroin suddenly couldn’t get it. Krokodil was the drug that filled that gap. When you have an addiction, prohibition will not stop it. If there is a demand, a supply will be generated. That\’s basic economics right there. Here is the video on krokodil:

Three Hundred Inmates Released Thanks to Chemist Who Faked Evidence

Three Hundred Inmates Released Thanks to Chemist Who Faked Evidence.

I included this case in my research paper on forensics fraud (which will be published here in December after this semester ends). It’s an aberration that she faked evidence to “seem like a good worker”.

Just because science and technology has advanced the potential to prove or disprove someone’s involvement in a crime doesn’t mean it is fraud-proof. It is so very important that we stick to the scientific method when processing evidence. In my forthcoming research paper, I discuss methods that other professionals in the field recommend to make it further fraud resistant such as double blind tests and even an “evidence line up” where the forensic examiner is presented with several items, only one of which is truly evidence from a crime scene. The examiner would then have to test all objects, not knowing which is real evidence, and falsify each item to reveal the evidence.

Brent Turvey has a textbook on forensics fraud and I’m tempted to add it to my library even though it isn’t for any of my classes. He authored my criminal profiling class textbook and I loved it. It’s very different and applies a scientific method, denouncing the organized/disorganized dichotomy that is currently employed in that field.

State Rep. Smashes Homeless Peoples’ Stuff With a Sledgehammer | Alternet

State Rep. Smashes Homeless Peoples\’ Stuff With a Sledgehammer | Alternet.

As one of my fav Clutter Cleaners Matt Paxton has said, “We are all just five decisions away from shitting in a bucket.” No one is immune and Mister-Smash-And-Grab may find himself homeless one day.

I was homeless for a short time in my late teens. I had my car, clothes and my toolbox in the trunk, a loaf of bread and a can of tangerines. A good night’s sleep was something that had become foreign to me, trying to sleep in the car in a bad area of town just outside the property line of an industrial/port business that my ex worked security for. In the daytime, we had to keep moving to not get in trouble for “loitering” but I had to be careful not to use up too much gas. That was after we had hopped from house to house of various family and friends and wearing out our welcomes. It was an awful time in my life and I cannot imagine loosing what I had then. I know that it is entirely possible to end up there again. It was a humbling experience that I turned into a life lesson.

I used to volunteer at a homeless shelter way back when. I really should make time to do so again. I do offer money when I have it and have even taken someone asking for money to get some food when I don’t carry cash. I know a lot of people (I used to be one of them) don’t like giving cash for fear of it going to a vice but I had a change of heart. If they use drugs or alcohol to cope, that is their business. Also, if they cannot get a fix, especially with alcohol, there is always a risk that withdrawal could kill them.

What do YOU do to help homeless people? What are some ways that can help the issue of homelessness?

George Stinney, Black Teen Executed In 1944, May Get New Trial

I truly have no words…

George Stinney, Black Teen Executed In 1944, May Get New Trial

via George Stinney, Black Teen Executed In 1944, May Get New Trial.

Okay after a conversation on Facebook, I do have some words. What bothers me is that a young teen was executed with no evidence aside from a supposed confession that very well may have been coerced. Considering that there may be new evidence in the case to acquit him (and aside from the fact there was not any evidence used to convict him anyway), a new trial is in order. If had been wrongfully accused and tried with nothing more than a confession that was not recorded or witnessed and there was a chance to clear my name, even after my execution, then yes, I’d want it done.

Attorney: Glen Burnie shooting was self-defense – CapitalGazette.com: For The Record

Attorney: Glen Burnie shooting was self-defense – CapitalGazette.com: For The Record.

Self defense… clearly… Looks like he was dealing with a stalker that was escalating and resorted to violence. If \”Call 911\” is your only lame excuse for charging this man with murder then you will loose this case. Even if he did call 911 right away the stalker broke into the house shortly after the confrontation started which means police would not have been able to get there prior to the man shooting the stalker in self defense and defense of his home and everyone in it.

via Attorney: Glen Burnie shooting was self-defense – CapitalGazette.com: For The Record.