In Doubt

In Doubt : The Psychology of the Criminal Justice Process

3.87 (8 ratings by Goodreads)
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Description

The criminal justice process is unavoidably human. Police detectives, witnesses, suspects, and victims shape the course of investigations, while prosecutors, defense attorneys, jurors, and judges affect the outcome of adjudication. In this sweeping review of psychological research, Dan Simon shows how flawed investigations can produce erroneous evidence and why well-meaning juries send innocent people to prison and set the guilty free.

The investigator's task is genuinely difficult and prone to bias. This often leads investigators to draw faulty conclusions, assess suspects' truthfulness incorrectly, and conduct coercive interrogations that can lead to false confessions. Eyewitnesses' identification of perpetrators and detailed recollections of criminal events rely on cognitive processes that are often mistaken and can easily be skewed by the investigative procedures used. In the courtroom, jurors and judges are ill-equipped to assess the accuracy of testimony, especially in the face of the heavy-handed rhetoric and strong emotions that crimes arouse.

Simon offers an array of feasible ways to improve the accuracy of criminal investigations and trials. While the limitations of human cognition will always be an obstacle, these reforms can enhance the criminal justice system's ability to decide correctly whom to release and whom to punish.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 416 pages
  • 156 x 235 x 38.1mm | 748.43g
  • Cambridge, Mass, United States
  • English
  • 0674046153
  • 9780674046153
  • 1,501,876

Review quote

Dan Simon puts the criminal justice system on trial, revealing the many flaws in how it operates. In his comprehensive look at the underlying cognitive science, he highlights the many potential pitfalls that might trip up the people involved at each stage of the judicial process. Simon shows, for example, how police investigations can be skewed by biases, how interrogation techniques can promote false confessions and how eyewitnesses can wrongly identify criminal suspects. He also analyses case studies of criminal investigations, laying out recommendations for how they could be improved. Perhaps unsurprisingly, much of the book is devoted to memory, which plays a central role in criminal investigations but is also the biggest source of potential errors. Simon tells how psychologist Frederic Bartlett's work in the 1920s showed that our memories are highly error-prone, and how, more recently, cognitive psychologist Elizabeth Loftus has shown that memory can be influenced, unintentionally or otherwise, by leading questions and other techniques. If In Doubt leaves you certain of anything, it is that assessing guilt should not be left to memory alone. -- Moheb Costandi New Scientist 20120721
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About Dan Simon

Dan Simon is Professor of Law and Psychology at the University of Southern California.
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Rating details

8 ratings
3.87 out of 5 stars
5 25% (2)
4 38% (3)
3 38% (3)
2 0% (0)
1 0% (0)
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