Attorney General's tough-on-crime policy could divide Republicans

May 2017

Attorney General Jeff Sessions' recently issued tough-on-crime drug sentencing memo runs counter to bipartisan efforts to overhaul the criminal justice system, said Mona Lynch, professor of criminology, law and society.

The memo is "a direct swipe at both the congressional effort to do sentencing reform and the U.S. attorneys’ offices efforts to reduce mandatory minimums," Lynch told Bloomberg BNA.

The regional divide that might result from tougher federal drug crime sentencing

May 2017

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is taking a hard stance on federal drug crime sentencing, reversing earlier attempts by the Obama administration to reduce the severity of punishment for low-level offenders.

This change could drive regional, geographic disparities in who gets sentenced and for how long, said Mona Lynch, professor of criminology, law and society.

You didn't build that: why remembering your good fortune can be good for you and others

May 2017

Life is shaped by factors beyond a person's control -- unearned advantages and undeserved disadvantages. But how much someone recognizes that often depends on whether they've benefited from or been hindered by those external factors, according to research by Paul Piff, assistant professor of psychology and social behavior.

Sentencing under Jeff Sessions about to get much more punitive

May 2017

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has instructed the 93 U.S. attorneys to prosecute people for the most serious offense possible, and send them to prison for as long as possible -- a reversal of Obama-era policies that aimed to reduce sentencing and prevent low-level offenders from serving long prison terms.

Criminology, Law and Society Professor Mona Lynch spoke with Slate about the ramifications of Sessions' recent policy memo, and outlined how it departs from recent bipartisan consensus on sentencing reform. The main takeaway? "It’s about to get much more punitive."

Elizabeth Loftus gives expert testimony in Jerry Sandusky case

May 2017

Elizabeth Loftus, distinguished professor of social ecology, gave expert testimony at the latest Jerry Sandusky appeals hearing, saying by phone that that there is no credible scientific support for a theory that someone can wall off a “horrific brutalization” and then recall it later because of counseling and therapy.

One of victims in the former Penn State assistant football coach's child sexual abuse case said his statements evolved from when he first testified five years ago -- a change he says resulted, in part, because of counseling and therapy.

Wealth affects driving and other behaviors, research says.

May 2017

Gaining wealth seems to have a damaging effect on a person's character, according to research done by Paul Piff, assistant professor of psychology and social behavior. Plus, they're worse drivers.

The wealthy, Piff said to, are less willing to take up the perspective of another person and less concerned about another’s well-being, and they tend to equate being better off with being better than others. Money makes people feel more deserving of success, he adds, and less needful of others. Piff is conducting a study of 50,000 adults to see how wealth influences social behavior.

Cops and scholars agree: immigration doesn't increase crime rates

May 2017

When police chiefs gather at their conferences to discuss the causes of crime, they talk about gangs, drug trafficking and even dysfunctional family homes, according to retired Anaheim Police Capt. Joe Vargas. They don't talk about immigration.

And that reflects the scholarly findings of Charis Kubrin, professor of criminology, law and society. Kubring has examined hundreds of studies and has found that immigrants are less crime-prone than the native-born population and that immigration to an area causes crime to go down, not up. Kubrin and Vargas both appeared on "Inside OC with Rick Reiff" to discuss immigration, crime and policing.

Nonprofit helping provide free and low-cost legal services to poor clients wins Blum Center pitch event

May 2017

Esqalate, an Orange County nonprofit, won the third annual Designing Solutions for Poverty Pitch Event hosted by the Blum Center for Poverty Alleviation. The nonprofit, founded by Chad Trainer, uses online services to connect experienced attorneys with the law school grads who can help them provide free and low cost legal services to poor people.

Perception of a moral partisan divide driven by partisan media

May 2017

Partisan factionalism has grown more severe recently, with Republicans and Democrats increasingly huddling in exclusive camps. Compared to decades past, people are more likely to be displeased if their children marry someone from the other party, and more likely to see members of the other party as selfish.

That animosity lingers. It's not like in sports, where the importance of team preferences goes away when the subject changes, Peter Ditto, professor of psychology and social behavior, told the Orange County Register. "In politics, people see it as a moral difference,” Ditto said. "And it’s fed by the media, and by people surrounding themselves with others who think the same way."