New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences

ASU research finds greater likelihood of false guilty pleas during pandemic

Like everything else, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused upheaval in the criminal justice system, with disruptions in trials and outbreaks among incarcerated people.

A new research paper by an Arizona State University professor uses a new computer simulation software to quantify one of the pandemic’s effects: a greater likelihood that people who are detained before trial will plead guilty in order get out of jail and avoid exposure to COVID-19 — even if they are innocent.

Eliminating doubt in criminal investigations

"The DNA is a match."

When you hear that phrase on modern-day detective shows, you know the jig is up; the bad guy has been caught. In a fictional TV world where crimes are solved in 30 minutes, nobody ever questions the authority of DNA evidence.

In real life, though, doubt can easily be cast on it because people get confused by scientific jargon, or because of uncertainties about how the evidence was obtained and handled — in one famous case, the O.J. Simpson murder investigation, both factors ultimately contributed to the outcome of the trial.