The Perception of a Jailhouse Informant in a Sexual Assault Case

Jonathan M. Golding, Jeffrey S. Neuschatz, Brian H. Bornstein, Andrea M. Pals, Stacy A. Wetmore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The present study examined the presence of a jailhouse informant (JI) on mock jurors’ perceptions of a sexual assault trial. In two experiments, male and female, jury-eligible community members (recruited from Amazon’s Mechanical Turk) read (via Qualtrics) a fictional trial summary in which a defendant sexually assaulted a 6-year-old child or 25-year-old. The prosecution’s case included a JI who testified that the defendant told him about committing the assault or the case excluded JI testimony. It was predicted that the presence of JI testimony, younger victims, and female participants would lead to more pro-victim judgments (e.g., more guilty verdicts). In addition, it was predicted that victim credibility would mediate the relationship between JI testimony and pro-victim judgments. Experiment 1 (N = 278, 57.5% female, 42.5% male) presented a trial with a female victim, whereas experiment 2 (N = 158, 53% female and 47% male) presented a trial with a male victim. Primary results found that participants were more pro-victim when there was a JI versus no JI, and that there was significant mediation via victim credibility. Implications and potential dangers of presenting JI testimony in sexual assault cases are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Police and Criminal Psychology
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2020

Keywords

  • Jailhouse informant
  • Law
  • Male victim
  • Rape
  • Sexual assault

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Law

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