SAGE Journal Articles

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Journal Article 1Demetriou, D. (2018). The mens rea of human trafficking: The case of migrant domestic workers. International Criminal Justice Review.

Abstract: Efforts to eradicate human trafficking continue, with the 2017 Trafficking in Persons Report calling on governments to improve the detection and prosecution of all involved in this crime, with specific reference to recruitment agencies. Yet despite calls to examine the wider scope of potential trafficking perpetrators, an important element remains problematic; namely, establishing that all involved in the recruitment and movement of individuals possess the requisite mental element for this crime. This article examines this mental element and applies it to the different actors commonly involved in the migration and alleged trafficking of migrant domestic workers. The article concludes that establishing such experiences as human trafficking and attributing the mental element of the offense to all people in the supply chain becomes less attainable. The flexibility permitted under the United Nations Trafficking Protocol, as to the national threshold for the crime’s mens rea, has resulted in disparities as to what and who the crime of human trafficking encompasses. The specific intent element of the Protocol is at odds with the constructive knowledge element incorporated in some states, a reality that runs counter to the intentions of the Protocol’s drafters for a unified definition and jeopardizes the prosecution of trafficking cases. In rectifying this, it is pivotal for states to ensure that alternative legal provisions are available to capture those who often pave the way to migrant domestic workers’ exploitation.

Journal Article 2Dunbar, A. (2018). Art or confession?: Evaluating rap lyrics as evidence in criminal cases. Race and Justice.

Abstract: For decades, scholars have studied mechanisms that might explain racial disparities in the criminal justice system. One novel example of a practice that may contribute to continuing disparities is the introduction of defendant-authored rap lyrics as evidence in criminal trials. Across the United States, prosecutors are introducing rap lyrics as confession evidence to establish guilt. Concerns about this practice have been articulated by scholars and others but rarely empirically examined. This study begins to address this lacuna. In particular, this study examines how lyrics are evaluated when presented in a trial context and determines how individuals change their evaluations of the lyrics to support their verdict. Participants were tasked with evaluating evidence, including rap lyrics, independently and in the context of a trial and then rendering a verdict. Results indicate that rap lyrics are viewed as interdependent with other evidence when presented at trial. Furthermore, although evaluations of lyrics did not predict determinations of guilt, verdict affected whether the lyrics were evaluated as a confession, and this effect was stronger for participants who believed the defendant was guilty. These findings highlight how introducing rap lyrics might disproportionately advantage prosecutors and contribute to our understanding of racial disparities in the criminal justice system.