Dr. Robert Norris

Dr. Norris received his Ph.D. from the University at Albany (SUNY), where he won the Frank Remington Award for Interdisciplinary Legal Studies and the Eliot H. Lumbard Award for Academic Excellence. He has numerous publications on issues related to wrongful convictions, policy reform, and criminal admissions (confessions and guilty pleas). He is a frequent participant at academic conferences and wrongful conviction events around the country.

Research Interests:

Social/political change and legal reform; Decision-making in the criminal justice system; Wrongful convictions; Interrogations and confessions; Plea bargaining

Advanced Undergraduate Courses:

Criminal Procedure; Innocence in the Criminal Justice System

Current Research:

  • The History of the American Innocence Movement

This research examines the history of the “innocence movement” in the United States. Using interviews with people involved in innocence advocacy, as well as historical and observational research, I explain how wrongful convictions became a major reform issue in the American justice system and became a social movement.

  • Examining State Policies to Prevent Wrongful Convictions

This project collects and describes state-level policy reforms to reduce wrongful convictions. I am collaborating with colleagues from three different universities, as well as an MPA student from Appalachian State. She has assisted with coding state laws, collecting published research for the literature review, and will be a co-author on the published article.

  • Race, Wrongful Convictions, and Support for Capital Punishment

This is a new research project in collaboration with another faculty member at Appalachian State, Dr. Kevin Mullinix, as well as an undergraduate student. We are conducting a survey experiment to test whether or not information about wrongful convictions has an effect on public support for the death penalty. We are also studying whether information about racial disparities in capital punishment impact support.

  • Police Culture and Coercive Interrogations

This research, in collaboration with a colleague at the University at Albany, examines the characteristics of police officers and whether or not those characteristics are related to their interrogation practices. In addition, we are measuring how strongly officers adhere to “police culture,” and whether or not that is related to their interrogation practices.

  • Restrictions on Feeding the Homeless in American Cities

In more than 70 cities across the United States, efforts have been made to legally restrict the feeding of the homeless. This research, in collaboration with colleagues at Kent State University, explores these efforts. We have written one article in which we compile cases where cities tried to restrict homeless feeding and argue that these are examples of “state harm,” where the law is being used to exacerbate a social problem, and are currently planning extensions on this research project.

Recent Publications:

Norris, R. J. & Bonventre, C. L. (2015). Advancing wrongful conviction scholarship: Towards new conceptual frameworks. Justice Quarterly, 32, 929-949.

Redlich, A. D., Acker, J. R., Norris, R. J., & Bonventre, C. L. (2014). Examining wrongful convictions: Stepping back, moving forward. Durham, NC: Carolina Academic Press.

Bushway, S. D., Redlich, A. D., & Norris, R. J. (2014). An explicit test of plea bargaining in the “shadow of the trial.” Criminology, 52, 723-754.

Norris, R. J. & Redlich, A. D. (2014). Seeking justice, compromising truth? Criminal admissions and the prisoner’s dilemma. Albany Law Review, 77, 1005-1038.

Norris, R. J. (2014). Exoneree compensation: Current policies and future outlook. In M. Zalman & J. Carrano (Eds.), Wrongful conviction and criminal justice reform: Making justice. New York, NY: Routledge.

Title: Assistant Professor
Department: Department of Government and Justice Studies

Email address: Email me

Phone: (828) 262-6908

Office address
351D Anne Belk Hall