Here’s Another Unethical Trend To Dread As Progressives Grab The Reins: “Trauma-Informed Justice”

TIJ

Trauma-informed justice, also called “victim-centered” justice, is becoming the cool new thing as woke anti-civil rights activists seek to get around due process and the presumption of innocence when it suits their agenda. The technique involves an interview methodology where the police prioritize empathy for accusers, who are automatically presumed to be victims. The methodology is especially favored for allegations of sexual abuse and domestic violence, where the accusers are overwhelmingly female: this a “believe all victims as long as they are wo,men” anti-male approach that has its roots in the feminist movement. The methodology was refined by Russell Strand, U.S. Military Police School, who offered the Forensic Experiential Trauma Interview (FETI) as a way to question presumed victims without making them relive an assault.

The theory dictates that police conduct investigations following three principles:

1. The accuser is automatically assumed to be a victim even before any investigation occurs, meaning that accused is assumed to be guilty. A leading proponent of the trauma-informed approach is the End Violence Against Women International (EVAWI) group, which holds that “believing” accusers “is the starting point for a fair and thorough investigation.” I

2. Contradictions, missing facts, and inconsistencies in an accuser’s testimony indicate trauma and thus should negatively affect the credibility of the accusation. One guide to trauma-informed justice states, “Trauma victims often omit, exaggerate, or make up information when trying to make sense of what happened to them or to fill gaps in memory.” The true flaw in the process is said to be the police department’s approach which depends on what is called “peripheral information”–for example, a suspect’s description and the time or place of an alleged attack. The police, therefore, should concentrate their efforts on decoding on what may be scattered and disjointed information from the accuser, thus establishing trust and helping to interpret and translate her memories.The lack of what trauma-informed justice advocates regard as“peripheral information,” like a suspect’s description and the time or place of an alleged attack. (!) should not be considered disqualifying.

3. Finally, factors that cast doubt on the allegation, such as an accuser’s history of false allegations or drug use, should be regarded as irrelevant. By traditional assessment of what kind of case should proceed to trial, such an approach is per se unethical. The Arizona Governor’s Commission to Prevent Violence Against Women issued a letter to Arizona’s criminal justice agencies to warn them that “In cases that proceed to trial, defense counsel likely could impugn investigators and claim that alternative versions of the crime were ignored and/or errors were made during the investigation as a result of confirmation bias created by the ‘belief’ element of the Start By Believing campaign.”

This should be familiar: it is essentially the approach taken by colleges and universities in their handling of sexual abuse, harassment and assault cases in the wake of the Obama Education Department’s infamous “Dear Colleague” letter. It is also what I have observed in many work-place situations, involving harassment, where the accused is not told who his accuser or accusers are, and damaging accounts are placed in his file without confirmation or proof. “Trauma-informed justice” is, like so much jargon-based “innovations,” per se unethical, depending on an abandonment of due process and the presumption of innocence.The International Association of Chiefs of Police. Article 10, Presentation of Evidence states, “The law enforcement officer shall be concerned equally in the prosecution of the wrong-doer and the defense of the innocent. He shall ascertain what constitutes evidence and shall present such evidence impartially and without malice.” Nah… when the alleged victim is female, that’s not acceptable. A just system must be a biased system: biased against the accused.

The touchy-feely interview techniques prescribed by TIJ advocates have another problem in addition to the constitutional one: there is no reason to think they work. As the United States Air Force Office of Special Investigations concluded in its “Report on the Use of the Forensic Experiential Trauma Interview (FETI) Technique” (2015), “We believe it would be inappropriate and irresponsible to discontinue the use of a robust, well-studied, effective, and empirically-validated interviewing method that is supported by the latest scientific research (the Cognitive Interview), in favor of an interviewing method that is loosely-constructed, is based on flawed science, makes unfounded claims about its effectiveness, and has never once been tested, studied, researched or validated.” Wendy McElroy, in an editorial last week called “The Metastasizing Cancer of Trauma-Informed Justice,” goes further, concluding,

“Social workers and therapists may need to Start By Believing the person they seek to heal. But the police are not mental health workers; they deal in cold, hard facts that have no gender or race. Investigators need to discern what is true or false about a situation rather than respond emotionally to it. In the process, some officers make mistakes and some act with malice; officers are human beings with all the flaws of shared humanity. The incompetence or malfeasance of individuals must be remedied but neither one is an indictment of the principles of Western justice. Turning accusations into convictions only makes prisoners of innocent people.”


11 thoughts on “Here’s Another Unethical Trend To Dread As Progressives Grab The Reins: “Trauma-Informed Justice”

  1. The Arizona Governor’s Commission to Prevent Violence Against Women issued a letter to Arizona’s criminal justice agencies to warn them that “In cases that proceed to trial, defense counsel likely could impugn investigators and claim that alternative versions of the crime were ignored and/or errors were made during the investigation as a result of confirmation bias created by the ‘belief’ element of the Start By Believing campaign.”

    Cue Mark Harmon to Michael Weatherly: “Ya THINK, DiNozzo?” [Gibbs slaps DiNozzo up the back of his head.]

    • Jack,
      I have to confess: I skimmed this post before responding. Don’t be offended. Feel grateful that I actually admitted it; I don’t do that in Court filings.

      It is called the Confrontation Clause for a reason. The ACCUSED has the RIGHT to CONFRONT the ACCUSER. Confront. Not inquire. Not Ask nicely. CONFRONT. Best piece of advice I got from the Court in a case (not sure it was even applicable in that instance, but who cares) is: “don’t examine the witness, cross-examine the witness.”

      To protect the accused, you CONFRONT the accuser. You don’t BELIEVE them. The goal is NOT to convict all of the GUILTY; it is to make sure the convictions of innocent people to convictions of guilty people is no greater than 1 out of 10. Believing the accuser does not further that goal.

      [personal anecdote omitted]

      -Jut

  2. This should be familiar: it is essentially the approach taken by colleges and universities in their handling of sexual abuse,

    I was going to say it was the approach of self-styled “experts” on Satanic Ritual Abuse during the Satanic Panic of the 80s and 90s.

  3. This is exactly the approach that many domestic violence victim’s advocates have wanted for decades. She accuses, he’s guilty, off with his head. I by no means excuse or minimize domestic violence, but I have had to handle many complaints by advocates over how well-conducted investigations failed to produce the results they desired. After the gender-neutral pro-arrest DV laws in many states resulted in charges against more female offenders, advocates routinely challenged any arrest of females. Many time I asked them to simply reverse the gender of the individuals involved in the situation, and their bias would become clear. This generally left them stammering.
    I’m no constitutional scholar, never played one on TV and haven’t stayed in a Holiday Inn Express in years, but this wouldn’t seem to pass judicial muster. Sorta throws that whole “presumption of innocence” thing out the window. Nonsense!

  4. Years ago I had a boss in confidence ask rhetorically why he should ever hire anyone but white males in the middle of the 2nd lawsuit in as many years. The first was by a black employee fired after being caught red-handed stealing equipment from the company – of course he claimed racism and involved the EEOC. The second was a woman who did zero actual work and tried to make others do her work because she was a single mom. Of course she involved the EEOC and claimed sexism. We were a department that was far more diverse than the average in our field (IT is dominated by the white male). Both lawsuits were eventually won by the company, but I’m not sure of the outcome now with these type of investigations. And remember, this will eventually seep into the lawyers who then become the judges overseeing these cases. Slippery slope? Maybe, but it sure feels like a very steep slope.

    • At two of the major DC associations where I was a manager, I hired three black staff members, and was sued by all three for discrimination. One stole money and files and constantly missed work, one had MS and didn’t tell me though he knew he was being hired for a time-sensitive project, and the third refused to be supervised. The associations just settled with all three. And the experience required that I find a way to put that this all aside to maintain my determination to hire qualified minorities whenever possible, and avoid bias.

  5. And remember, this will eventually seep into the lawyers who then become the judges overseeing these cases.

    Eventually? See, eg., Sonia Sotomayor. and of course, The Notorious RBG.

    • It already has happened in all fields of endeavor. Why is it that every AI we make becomes ‘racist’ and ‘misogynistic’? You can’t make a working AI that doesn’t. Even if you remove gender and race as data the AI can ‘see’, it still is racist and misogynistic. Why is that? The AI just looks for patterns. The AI may notice that employees with a 4.0 GPA from Wellesley do worse that employees with a 3.5 GPA from MIT. It then creates a scaling factor to favor graduates of MIT. Well, the Wellesley employees are female and most of the MIT employees are male, “Misogyny!”. You can try to remove that and have the AI treat all colleges as equal, then the AI notices something else. It may find that engineering and physics majors have more successful careers in software development than psychology and sociology majors despite GPA or alma maters. Well, the former are mostly male and the latter are mostly female. More misogyny! The AI is trying to find patters to predict performance and it detects the inflation of credentials due to affirmative action.

      I was watching an account of an IQ study designed to debunk the notion that people of African descent have lower IQ’s that people of European descent. They chose a college in South Africa that had a good population of both white and black students. They used psychology majors because there are so many of them. They chose a group of students such that the white and black students had the same GPA in the same program at the same university. The test had no words and was just pure pattern matching to keep cultural aspects out of it. The white students scored 20 points higher. The researchers couldn’t understand how that could be. How could the 2 groups of students be that far apart when they get the same grades in the same classes? I think the answer is that the study was ruined by affirmative action that artificially increased the scores of the black students (or artificially lowered the scores of the white students). They thought they had selected two groups that were of equal ability so they could ‘disprove’ the prevailing IQ research. So, what is the truth about IQ? We won’t know unless we stop believing the affirmative action lies. We also won’t know if all IQ research is as poorly constructed as that one (measuring samples of 2 groups constructed intentionally to be ‘equal’ in order to show that the 2 groups are ‘equal’).

      The biggest victims of this are qualified women and minorities. How can an employer or anyone else tell if their credentials are real or ‘adjusted for equity’? Employers have to be able to hire people who can actually do the job. They need to work around artificial credentials to do that and be productive. I am sure they have figured this out and are employing scaling factors to adjust for such things. The Anti Civil Liberties Union challenged the law preventing people from researching hiring software to see if it yields ‘racist’ or ‘misogynistic’ results, reinforcing my suspicion.

      https://www.aclu.org/press-releases/judge-allows-aclu-case-challenging-law-preventing-studies-big-data-discrimination

  6. The Arizona Governor’s Commission to Prevent Violence Against Women issued a letter to Arizona’s criminal justice agencies to warn them that “In cases that proceed to trial, defense counsel likely could impugn investigators and claim that alternative versions of the crime were ignored and/or errors were made during the investigation as a result of confirmation bias created by the ‘belief’ element of the Start By Believing campaign.”

    There is a maxim in trial strategy, which is “never ask a question that you don’t know the answer to”.

    Trauma-informed justice inhibits the ability of prosecutors to ask questions to which they do not know the answer prior to trial. “[P]eripheral information” is what prosecutors need before trial. Otherwise, the only way to fin d out these answers is to ask the witness during the trial.

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