Once they start to tape, they won’t want to stop– that’s what the evidence has shown. A number of justifications are suggested that help to minimize and normalize the crime and provide face-saving moral excuses. The case of Peter Reilly  gives an excellent illustration of such a confession. If that means confession, well then I guess that is necessary. All this can lead suspects under stress to infer leniency. In a courtroom, judges and juries often see the confession, but not the interrogation that produced it, so they do not understand what the interrogation process looks like. It just seemed inconceivable to me that five boys independently would incriminate themselves. But as the jurors later said afterwards, ‘they confessed.’ And if you think the odds of a single false confession are unlikely, what are the odds of five false confessions in a single case. When I ask that question, almost to a person, everybody has this response — Unless you put a gun to my head, there is no way I would confess to a rape or a murder or something that serious unless I did it. At the same time that a message of despair is being pounded into the suspect, there’s another set of tactics that are being developed, what is often referred to in the Reid technique as theme development. Early in their investigation, police brought in five black and hispanic teenage boys between the ages of 14 and 16 for questioning. The reason why people confess to crimes they did not commit is because they are subject to pressures of interrogation, a highly aggressive form of social influence. Attorney Tom Sullivan has conducted hundreds of phone interviews with police detectives all over the country who have gone to taping, and uniformly, almost to a person, they now embrace it. SK: In 2010, my colleagues and I published a white paper for the American Psychology- Law Society and the one recommendation we made above of all else, was for the mandatory recording of all suspect interviews and interrogations. … What they don’t get to see, and never saw in those Central Park jogger cases, was the 14 to 30 hours of interrogation that preceded and produced those confessions. Why confessions trump innocence. To understand the two most common kinds of false confessions, coerced-compliant and coerced-internalized, researchers developed the rational choice theory, which posits that some suspects falsely confess because interrogation convinces them that confessing is the most rational choice.6This can occur when an innocent suspect believes that the police have strong evidence and that confessing is the only way to avoid severe punishment. Each one implicated the four others and each one stated that he himself played a minimal role. The prosecutors knew that at the time and had to make a decision. A number of justifications are suggested that help to minimize and normalize the crime and provide face-saving moral excuses. Coerced Internalized False Confessions False confession when an innocent but vulnerable suspect confesses and comes to believe they committed the crime in question, a belief that is sometimes accompanied by false memories. EN: You’ve been working on confessions and interrogations for over 35 years. I think there are two myths that people hold The first is the myth that I would never confess to a crime I did not commit. In some cases, they get so confused by the fact that American police are permitted to lie about evidence — and I mean lie about DNA, prints, surveillance footage, polygraph results — that in some cases people accused of crimes, particularly kids and others who are limited intellectually, become so confused by the lies that they actually come to believe they have committed this crime they did not commit. (71) Coerced-internalized confessions can outwardly appear "voluntary" and are not coerced by police in a traditional sense. Evan Nesterak: What factors contribute to why a person, and in the case of the Central Park Five, five teenagers, would, Years ago, my colleague (Larry Wrightsman) and I identified two types of false confessions that come from police interrogation. SK: It’s virtually impossible for judges and juries to see past confessions whether they’re true or false. 1 There are two doctrines in criminal law designed to keep illegally obtained confessions from the jury. That was known to the judge when he ruled the confessions voluntary at a pretrial hearing. “The Interview: Do police interrogations produce false confessions?” (2013). When the suspect protests his innocence, the trained interrogator overcomes those denials, and overcomes objections. And so they look at that confession, and they initially believe it, they reflexively believe it. When an interrogator moves a suspect on to the process of interrogation, which is accusatory and confrontational, it means also that the process of interrogation is by definition a guilt presumptive process. It is therefore no surprise that opening salvo of a Reid-style interrogation is an [accusatory] statement — we know you did this, don’t lie. a favorable plea), or [to] avoid a threatened harm (e.g. You bring an individual in who may or may not become a suspect and you interview the person. If police use stress, pressure or coercion, and suspects desperately want to escape from a painful interrogation process, they may confess whether they are guilty or not. I'd know a false confession if I saw one": a comparative study of college students and police investigators. Now, second to that, I would certainly recommend a certain degree of overhaul, or at least tinkering with the Reid-style method of interrogation. Interestingly none of them actually confessed to raping the jogger. It was known to the two juries that later convicted the boys. They are statements that contain expressions of remorse and apologies. When you train people in using the cues recommended by the Reid technique…they don’t become better human lie detectors; they only become more confident lie detectors. Yet, the judgment made at that point is critical because if in the interrogator’s judgment this person is telling the truth they send him or her home and that’s the end of it. The two types of coerced confessions are elicited through the process of interrogation. Or, it can occur if an innocent suspect, … They don’t become better human lie detectors; they only become more confident lie detectors. Documentary: Burns, K. (2013). Why did they confess to crimes they did not commit? We told them what the crime was, and asked them to make up a confession. The suspect is isolated, confronted with accusations, and not allowed to mount a defense. Before a confession ever gets to a jury, at a pretrial hearing, the judge rules whether the confession was voluntary or coerced. In this isolated setting, some steps are designed to break the suspect down in to a state of despair. Paradigm shift in the study of human lie-detection: Bridging the gap between science and practice. They don’t talk to a suspect until he comes into the interview room, and as soon as people walk into that interview room, two things happen: the lights turn on, and the camera turns on. But as soon as that approach permits a detective to confront a suspect with manufactured evidence, and outright lies about the evidence, that influences not only the guilty suspect but puts the innocent person at risk as well–and that is problematic. EN: Why do you think despite all the evidence in the Central Park Five case pointing to someone other than the 5 boys, that their confessions were still seen as enough evidence to prosecute and convict all of them? These confessions are made by individuals who falsely confess, but truly believe in their guilt despite objective evidence to the contrary. Within 72 hours of the attack, the jogger still in a coma, the NYPD believed they had solved the crime. The reason these statements are so tricky for judges and juries is that typically what they get to see is only the confession on camera. You wonder if there is anything at all that this person can do to convince this interrogator of his innocence. Compliant false confessions. My colleagues and I recently replicated that study using juvenile detainees. First, a diagnostic process is used. It’s psychological, but not informed by psychology. Statements of this nature communicate to a suspect the belief that their alleged actions are not in some moral way reprehensible. The Central Park Five: A Film By Ken Burns & David McMahon and Sarah Burns. I have long said that if the Reid technique were used only on criminals, it would be perfect, [a] great technique. These are cases, like the Central Park jogger case, where innocent people, who know they are innocent become so stressed, so broken down, and so confused as to what their best means of escape is that they confess fully knowing they’re innocent. Using these behavioral cues, they claim that they can train interrogators up to an 85 or 90 percent level of accuracy in judging truth or deception. The Second myth is, I’d know a false confession if I saw one. 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