Vol. 2, Issue 2, July 2010

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Judicial judgement-making and legal criteria of testimonial credibility Judicial judgement-making and legal criteria of testimonial credibility

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Mercedes Novo and Dolores Seijo

pp. 91-115


Abstract: Judicial judgement-making in legal and forensic settings is characterised by the information-loss model. In comparison to formal reasoning styles, in which information is processed in detail, judicial reasoning styles are mainly informal. Moreover, the experimental literature regarding judges and juries has revealed that reliability is the corner stone of legal judgement-making in legal contexts. This study aims to assess the underlying legal criteria assigned to the credibility of testimonies by judges by evaluating the court archives of judicial judgements in which the verdict rested entirely on the credibility of testimonies. Moreover, given the prevalence of informal reasoning in this context, an analysis was undertaken to determine the use of heuristics which are indicative of informal reasoning. In addition, an analysis of the interaction of both variables and their effect on joint decision-making by legal experts and lay people was assessed. Finally, bearing in mind the limitations of this study, the results are discussed in terms of their implications in the evaluation of testimonial credibility in judicial proceedings.


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Juvenile delinquency and young offender: Bibliographical and bibliometric review of two perspectives of study Juvenile delinquency and young offender: Bibliographical and bibliometric review of two perspectives of study

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Francisco J. Rodríguez; Luis Rodríguez-Franco; Javier López-Cepero; and Carolina Bringas

pp. 117-143


Abstract: Nowadays, interest in dissocial and criminal behavior among young people keeps high. However, this interest dates back to over 60 years before the inclusion of Juvenile Delinquency (JD) in American Psychological Association’s Thesaurus. The present review recovers journal articles included in the database PsycINFO and provides a descriptive analysis of the production over a century. An analysis of contents was developed using three different criteria: reviewing articles written by the most prolific authors; using the major descriptors assigned by PsycINFO to these publications; and classificating ad hoc articles by several judges. Comparing the periods 1947-57 and 1997-2007 we confirmed the progression from theoretical approaches to empirical studies as well as the change in focus from social class to contexts of intervention (school, family and community). However, those outcomes showed clearly the need to develop new initiatives which allow the classification of the enormous amount of information related to JD issued each year. We discuss the suitability of the term JD in the Spanish social and legal context, proposing as a possible substitute Menor Infractor (Young Offender).


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Modelling alcohol consumption during adolescence using zero inflated negative binomial and decision trees Modelling alcohol consumption during adolescence using zero inflated negative binomial and decision trees

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Elena Gervilla; Berta Cajal; Joan Roca; and Alfonso Palmer

pages 145-159


Abstract: Alcohol is currently the most consumed substance among the Spanish adolescent population. Some of the variables that bear an influence on this consumption include ease of access, use of alcohol by friends and some personality factors. The aim of this study was to analyze and quantify the predictive value of these variables specifically on alcohol consumption in the adolescent population. The useful sample was made up of 6,145 adolescents (49.8% boys and 50.2% girls) with a mean age of 15.4 years (SE= 1.2). The data were analyzed using the statistical model for a count variable and Data Mining techniques. The results show the influence of ease of access, alcohol consumption by the group of friends, and certain personality factors on alcohol intake, allowing us to quantify the intensity of this influence according to age and gender. Knowing these factors is the starting point in elaborating specific preventive actions against alcohol consumption.


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Mobile phone quality vs. direct quality: How the presentation format affects earwitness identification accuracy Mobile phone quality vs. direct quality: How the presentation format affects earwitness identification accuracy

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Lisa Öhman; Anders Eriksson; and Pär Anders Granhag

pp. 161-182


Abstract: The present study aimed to gain insight into the effect of mobile phone quality on voice identification using an ecologically realistic design. A total of 165 participants were exposed to an unfamiliar voice, either directly recorded or mobile phone recorded, for 40 seconds. After a two week delay, they were asked to identify the target-voice in a 7 voice target-present line-up. We used a between-subjects design, where half of the subjects were exposed to a directly recorded line-up, and the other half to a mobile phone recorded line-up. Data analysis did not show any significant effect of presentation format or line-up format. These results suggest that the detrimental effect on voice recognition suggested by the poorer sound quality of mobile phone recordings is minimal. They also indicate that there is no benefit from conducting a mobile phone recorded line-up, if the voice is originally heard over a mobile phone. More research is needed, however, before definitive conclusions may be drawn. The overall accuracy for correct identifications was 12.7% which is expected by chance. Further, one particular foil attracted 54% of all false identifications. Future research should focus on explaining why earwitnesses perform so poorly and develop methods to improve identification accuracy.


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A stepwise approach to identify intellectual disabilities in the criminal justice system A stepwise approach to identify intellectual disabilities in the criminal justice system

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Erik Søndenaa, Tom Palmstierna, and Valentina Cabral Iversen

pp. 183-198


Abstract: A significant proportion of the prison inmates have an IQ level corresponding to intellectual disability (ID) or borderline ID. These persons are rarely identified and subsequently not offered any compensation for their learning and comprehension deficits. The purpose of this study was to explore and help providing methods for better identification of ID at an early stage during criminal proceedings. 143 randomly selected prisoners serving sentences in prisons were assessed using The Wechsler Abbreviated Scale of Intelligence(WASI) and the Hayes Ability Screening Index (HASI) while a semi-structured interview was carried out to obtain data on health as well as social and criminological issues. A total of 10.8% (n = 15) of the participants showed an IQ below 70. From previous analyses of the semi-structured interview, a checklist was extracted and found to have good predictive validity on ID (AUC = 93%). The resulting identification referred 32% (n = 46) of the sample for comprehensive assessment. Within this group, all participants with an IQ below 70 were included. Identification through this checklist, the screening and a full assessment is essential in improving the quality of the services.


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