Effectiveness and accuracy of FBI profilers questioned after exoneration

July 2017

Earlier this year after 11 years behind bars, Raymond Lee Jennings, who was convicted of killing an 18-year-old woman in a Palmdale parking lot, was declared innocent.

It took three trials to get that guilty verdict -- the first two trials ended in deadlock -- and the case was based largely on circumstantial evidence. In particular, the prosecution relied on testimony of an FBI profiler. Profilers help detectives predict the likely characteristics of a criminal, but experts are split on how effective profiling actually is -- and whether it's anything more than glorified guesswork.

Profilers can help narrow the list of suspects in an investigation, said Simon Cole, professor of criminology, law and society and director of the National Registry of Exonerations. But there's risk if the profiler is wrong.

How parents can engage disconnected children

July 2017

One in eight young adults ages 16 to 24 are neither in school nor working, a situation that is detrimental for them and society. Additionally, 71 percent of young adults can't join the U.S. military because they lack academic skills, have criminal records or suffer health issues such as obesity and diabetes.

WalletHub recently examined 10 indicators of youth risk across all 50 states to see where young adults are faring poorly and where they're doing well. Jessica Borelli, associate professor of psychology and social behavior, was part of the expert panel, and offered some advice for parents with disconnected children.

From prisoner to editor: how gaining skills in prison can help post-release

July 2017

For 18 years, Troy Williams was locked up in San Quentin State Prison, doing time for attempted robbery. Now, he's the new editor of a newspaper that seeks to tell the stories of San Francisco's Bayview neighborhood -- along with the stories of incarcerated people across the country. More than 3,000 incarcerated people subscribe to the newspaper.

Williams worked on other media projects while in prison, and his journey of rising from prisoner to editor is an example of the ways that building up skills while incarcerated can help prisoners after they're released.

"The vast majority of people get out of prison and the more that they can be connected to their communities, the better they’ll do," Keramet Reiter, an assistant professor of criminology, law and society told PBS Newshour. "Giving them the ability to tell their stories, it’s likely to be very productive in terms of long-term reentry."

Students celebrate graduation and prepare for diverse careers

June 2017

Nearly 1,300 students graduated June 16, filling the Bren Events Center for two ceremonies, snapping selfies and celebrating with family and friends. Jermaine Griggs, an alumnus who graduated in 2005 after starting the business "Hear and Play Music," gave a rousing commencement address exhorting students to keep striving for more by asking "What if?"

New study concludes that immigration does not cause crime

June 2017

Professor Charis Kubrin has analyzed 20 years of studies on the relationship between immigration and crime, and she's reached a conclusion: immigration does not cause crime. In fact, many of the most reliable studies in the last two decades suggest immigration causes a drop in crime.

"As far as I'm concerned the case is closed on the issue of whether immigration is causing more crime," the professor of criminology, law and society told Univision. "The criminologists are turning the page but the rest of the country is still asking the ... question."

Global Service Scholars leave for field study service trips in Peru, Thailand and Ghana

June 2017

It's one thing to learn about compassion and altruism in the classroom. It's a completely different thing to live out that compassion and altruism by serving impoverished communities halfway around the world.

A group of 20 UC Irvine students -- and four UC Santa Barbara students -- are doing both, and this month are starting field study summer service programs in Peru, Thailand and Ghana. These Global Service Scholars are capping a 10-week academic course on empathy, compassion, altruism and service by tackling poverty problems and working at local nonprofits focused on human rights, conservation, women's empowerment, infrastructure, youth mentorship and healthcare in the far-off countries.