Legal Studies - Final

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What is a wrongful conviction?

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What is a wrongful conviction?

Convictions can be wrong for many reasons: false application of law, racism, prejudice, overcriminalization and over policing, convicting the poor and helpless, convicting innocent people

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What does wrongful conviction mean in terms of legal and factual guilt?

Factually innocent: no crime case, wrong person

Legally innocent: false application of law, self defense cases

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What are exonerations?

Wrongfully convicted now legally innocent and sentence repealed

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How does official misconduct contribute to wrongful convictions?

Contributing factor in 54% of exonerations

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Explain misconduct by police

Suggestive identifications, coerced false confessions, suppressing exculpatory evidence, incentivizing unreliable information

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Explain misconduct by prosecution

Suppressing exculpatory evidence, deliberate destructive or mishandling of evidence, calling to testify untruthful witnesses, pressuring defense witness nit to testify, relying on fraudulent forensic experts, misleading arguments

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Official misconduct in Michael Morton case

DA found guilty of criminal contempt for failing to disclose exculpatory evidence

DNA testing did not yield result

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What is mistaken witness identification?

Contributing factor in 29% of overall exonerations

69% in sexual assault exonerations

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Why is eyewitness evidence so unreliable?

memory does not work like a video recorder, memory is constructive

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Misidentification in John White case

White is the only one in both photo array and lineup

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Estimator variables for eyewitness misidentification

Lighting, distance, cross-race ID, presence of a weapon, victim’s stress level

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System variables for eyewitness misidentification

Selection of fillers, order in which photos are shown, blind administration, instructions to witnesses

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What is false certainty?

Eyewitnesses can be influenced even after they have made a choice from the lineup

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What is relative judgment?

people prefer to make comparisons, rather than absolute judgment

find the one who looks most like the criminal

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What is false or misleading forensic evidence?

Contributing factor in 25% of wrongful convictions

Fingerprint analysis, hair microscopy, fiber analysis, bite mark comparison, firearm tool mark analysis shoe print comparisons, arson investigations

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What are false confessions?

Contributing factor in 12% of exonerations

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What causes false confessions?

diminished capacity, coercion, duress, fear of violence, threats, deception, threat of harsh sentence, belief truth will ultimately free them

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Chris Ochao and false confessions

Interrogated for 12 hour sessions, threatened with DP, confessed

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DNA testing in Ochoa’s case

Not many people to compare DNA to, eventually matched to someone else

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What is a sentence?

A penalty or sanction imposed on a person by court upon conviction for a criminal offense

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What is the difference between the trial stage and the sentencing stage?

Verdict vs. Sentencing

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What is a pre-sentencing investigation?

Helps court fashion an appropriate and fair sentence tailored to individual

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What does it mean to have a bifurcated proceeding?

Trial and sentence is seperate

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What are the advantages and disadvantages of bifurcation?

Pro: private details shared after verdict, guilt first then sentencing, defense attorneys dilemma

cons: bifurcation is a myth, line between crime and criminal blurs, less economical

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What are the two purposes of punishment?

Absolute and relative

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What is absolute punishment?

punishment is to be inflicted because a crime has been committed

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What is relative punishment?

Punishment is to be inflicted that no crime will be committed

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What are the goals of punishment?

Deterrence, retribution

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What goals of punishment are considered absolute? What types of punishment are considered relative?

Absolute: retaliation, just deserts, atonement r,epentance

relative: Rehabilitation, deterrence

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What is retribution?

“eye for an eye”

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What does just deserts mean?

receive the appropriate reward or punishment for one’s action

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What is rehabilitation?

Focuses on the criminal and helping them

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What is the purpose of incarceration?

retribution and incapacitation

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What is deterrence? What is the difference between general and specific deterrence?

General: Directed at preventing crime among the general pop.

Specific: Aimed at specific offender

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Who works as a decision maker in the courtroom?


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Different forms of sentences from least to most restrictive?

Fine, probation, intermediate sentencing, incarceration, death

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Objectives that guide sentencing philosophies?

Individual character of the offender, uniformity, certainty, goal of punishment

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What is a “guilt principle”?

The culpability of the offender is the foundation and the limit of any penal intervention

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What are the differences between indeterminate sentences, determinate sentences, and mandatory sentences?

Intermediate: judge has max and min, parole hearings, tailored to individual

Determinate: Specified sentence to crime, uniformity

Mandatory: minimum sanction for offense, no discretion

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Explain the role of discretion in mandatory sentencing


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What are sentencing guidelines?

Specifically defining offense and offender elements that should be considered

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What are Three Strikes Laws?

Three strikes and you get life, for felonies

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What are Truth in Sentencing Laws?

Offenders serve substantial proportion of sentence before release

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Number of executions since 1976?


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Understand the number of those sentenced versus the number of those executed.

2% are actually executed

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What is the difference in cost between the death penalty and the cost of life in prison

$45,000 vs 1-5 million

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What does the term “evolving standards of decency” mean?

classify one punishment as cruel and unusual while permitting another

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What is the “constitutionalization” of the death penalty?

Becoming too legal

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Trop v. Dulles 1958. What does the Supreme Court note in this case.

the interpretation of the 8th amendment contained an “evolving standard of decency” that marked the progress of a maturing society

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Furman v. Georgia 1972. What is the holding in this case?

SC banned death penalty for procedural reasons

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Why was did the Supreme Court ban the death penalty originally?

procedural reasons

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Gregg v. Georgia 1975. What is the holding in this case?

Definition of procedure: Separate sentencing, jurors have to weight aggravating and mitigating factors, opportunities for appeals

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What is procedure?

Separate sentencing and guilt

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Ford v Wainwright 1986. What is the holding in this case?

ban of executions of persons that have become insane

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Roper v Simmons 2005. What is the holding in this case?

Banned execution of individuals under 18

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Atkins v Virginia 2002. What is the holding in this case?

executing mentally retarded is unconstitutional

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Strickland v Washington 1984. What is the holding in this case?

but for counsel unprofessional errors, the result of proceedings would be different

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How difficult is it to meet the standard in Strickland v Washington?

High bar

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Witherspoon v IL 1968. What is the holding in this case?

people who oppose death penalty should not automatically be excluded from capital cases

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What is the goal of the death penalty?

Deterrence, retribution

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How much does the death penalty deterrence work to prevent murders?

Not well, 5%

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Criticisms of the death penalty. Explain wrongful convictions; racial discrimination; inequality of death?

All death row inmates come from 20% of counties

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McClesky v Kemp 1987. What is the holding in this case?

statistics irrelevant unless intent can be proven for racial discrim.

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Discuss the death penalty on an international level

higher in US than in most western europe countries

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Number of persons incarcerated in the US. Data for mass incarceration

2.5 mill. incarcerated

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What  is mass incarceration?

overcriminalization of crimes to keep people behind bars

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Be able to discuss the history of incarceration in the US

rate of incarceration spiked after crime bill

1.Creation of the Penitentiary

2.The Pennsylvania System

3.The New York System

4.The Reformatory Movement

5.Progressive Era

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What is the custodial model?

emphasizes safety, order and disciple

punishment and restitution

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What are rehabilitative and community models?

the “medical model”

rehabilitation outside prison

educational programs

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What is the medical model?

the model of corrections based on the assumption that criminal behavior is caused by social, psychological, or biological deficiencies that require treatment

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Mistretta v. US 1989. What is the holding in this case?

upholds an act that “rejects imprisonment as a means of promoting rehabilitation”

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Be able to explain the explosion in the prison population. Where was the attention?

Until 1970: imprisonment rate at about 100 inmates per 100,000 citizens

Since 1970s: increase to about 743 (2009) inmates per 100,000

Average increase: 5.7% annually between 1990 and 1999

Little correlation with crime rate

Decrease in indeterminate sentences, probation and parole

Attention shifts from offender to offense

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What caused mass incarceration? (NOTE: 8 causes) Explain them

economic forces, war on poverty, tough on crime and lack of tolerance, medias “superconstruction” of crime enhances fear, perception of legal system. belief that punishment should be swift and certain, pub. safety, war on drugs

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What is the New Jim Crow?

disproportionate imprisonment of people of color

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What is the comparative perspective?

Goals Through the execution of a prison sentence the incarcerated shall develop social responsibility and be enabled to lead a life without crime. Imprisonment also serves the protection of society

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What is a total institution?

A place of residence and work where a large number of like-situated individuals, cut off from the wider society for an appreciable period of time together, lead an enclosed, formally administered round of life

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Be able to discuss prisoner demographics

44.7% african american

17.4% hispanic

36.1% white

1.8% other

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What is the reintegration model?

Emphasizes maintaining the offender’s ties to family and community as a method of reform, recognizing that the offender will be returning to society

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Be able to discuss the presence of mentally ill persons in prison

1/3 of Wisconsin’s inmates are mentally ill

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Explain the criminalization of mental illness

gov. closed state run hospitals, jail can’t say no, no proper treatment

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What is recidivism?

the tendency of a convicted criminal to reoffend

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What are the pains of imprisonment?

loss of: liberty, autonomy, security, voting rights


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What is prisonization?

losing the ability to initiate or control ones own behavior, or to organize own life

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Differences between incarceration in the US versus incarceration in Germany

goals: development of ability to lead life without crime (GER)

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What are the goals of community corrections?

Goal: Finding the least restrictive alternative to incarceration

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What are the benefits of community corrections?

Many offences are not serious enough to warrant incarceration • Cost • Recidivism rates not higher • Ex‐inmates require support and supervision

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What are the common characteristics of alternatives to incarceration?

• Residential Stability • Professional Services • Accountability • Economic Efficiency

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What are the forms of alternative sanctions?

Probation, parole, fines

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What is probation?

Conditional release into community under supervision of correctional officials

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What is parole?

Early release

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US v Knights 2001. What is the holding in this case?

Warrantless searches of probationers are constitutional, and police searches of probationers are valid without a warrant or probable cause (but reasonable suspicion) even without probationary purpose.

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What are three general types of intermediate sentences?

  1. Administered in community

  2. Administered inside institutions, followed by community supervision

  3. Judicial Intermediate Sanctions • Fines • Restitution • Forfeiture

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What does the term “the vacuum of punishment” mean?

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What are judicial intermediate sanctions?

fines, restitution, forfeiture

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What are technical violations? How do they work?

a transgression against the conditions the pro- bationer was ordered to live under

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What are the differences in revocation with technical violations versus arrests for new crimes?

most on parole revoked for new crimes not violations

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What are day fines?

give up your pay to city instead of spending time in jail

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What is shock incarceration? What is one form of shock incarceration?

1. One form: Boot Camp a. Purposes b. Theory c. Selection d. Goals e. Structure f. Assessment

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What does net widening mean?

intermediate sanctions might lead to a wider, stronger, and different net form of control over offenders lives

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What are problem solving courts?

restorative justice

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