The Reid-based Behavioral Analysis Interview, which primarily consists of asking 15 to 20 questions designed to evoke particular behavioral (verbal, nonverbal, and paralinguistic) responses from which the interrogator can allegedly discern whether a suspect is telling the truth or lying, has its origins in the polygraph and like the polygraph has been empirically shown to have high rates of error.7 As Kassin and Gudjonsson note,12 police detectives and other professional lie-catchers are accurate only 45 to 60 percent of the time. As Ofshe and Leo have written, âthe modern equivalent to the rubber hose is the indirect threat communicated through pragmatic implicationâ (Ref. They are not, for example, likely to understand that the police detective who appears to be friendly is really their adversary or to grasp the long-term consequences of making an incriminating statement. Research tells us that there is no simple answer because many different psychological factors can lead someone to make a false confession. Instrumental voluntary false confessions are ones in which an individual comes forward on his/her behalf and confesses to the crime. To understand why criminal suspects give false confessions, we must first understand how police investigators target criminal suspects and how police interrogation works as a psychological process, before eliciting a suspect's admission and in the postadmission stage of interrogation. Instead, the suspect either guesses or confabulates about how the crime could have occurred, repeats the details that the police have suggested to him, knowingly makes up the details, or tries to infer them from the interrogatorsâ suggestions. We will now look at the law of confessions; their strengths and weaknesses. They also tend to occur primarily in high-profile murder cases and to be the product of unusually lengthy and psychologically intense interrogations.7 Once he is removed from the interrogation environment and its attendant influences and pressures, the persuaded false confessor typically recants his confession.9,20 Some recant even before the interrogation terminates. One of the biggest causes of wrongful convictions is the false assumption that no one would ever confess to a crime they didn’t commit. Although researchers and scholars have long documented the problem of wrongful conviction,3 the use of DNA testing to exonerate innocent prisoners and the sustained media attention that it has received has increased public recognition that the criminal justice system often convicts the wrong people.4 Although the number of wrongful convictions continues to mount, the DNA exonerations represent only a small part of a much larger problem. 31, p 264). The mentally ill possess a range of psychiatric symptoms that make them more likely to agree with, suggest, or confabulate false and misleading information and provide it to detectives during interrogations. Thus the false-confession evidence is highly, if not inherently, prejudicial to the fate of any innocent defendant in the American criminal justice system. Taken together, these studies demonstrate that a false confession is a dangerous piece of evidence to put before a judge or jury, because it profoundly biases their evaluation of the case in favor of conviction, so much so that they may allow it to outweigh even strong evidence of a suspect's factual innocence.8 The Leo and Ofshe8,56 and Drizin and Leo5 studies show that real-world jurors simply fail to discount false-confession evidence appropriately, even when the defendant's uncorroborated confession was elicited by coercive methods and the other case evidence strongly supports his innocence. Coerced-compliant false confessions are the most common type of false confession. These have been referred to as the misclassification error, the coercion error, and the contamination error.7. Kassin calls such false confessions… Police Interrogation and American Justice. For example, a weak and ambiguous eyewitness identification that otherwise may have been quickly dismissed in the absence of a confession is treated instead as corroboration of the confession's underlying validity. If, however, the entire interrogation is not recordedâand most documented false-confession cases are notâthen there may be no objective way to prove that the interrogator contaminated the suspect's postadmission narrative. While voluntary false confessions are given with no outside influences, the other two types are usually coerced by external pressure. Great Britain has adopted several reforms, based on growing documentation and awareness of the problem of false confessions.9 American law enforcement, however, remains steeped in the use of investigative methods and interrogation techniques that continue to cause the three errors that produce false confessions, and the American public continues to believe in the myth of psychological interrogation. Most people get it right at rates that are no better than chance (i.e., 50%) or the flip of a coin.15 Moreover, specific studies of police interrogators have found that they cannot reliably distinguish between truthful and false denials of guilt at levels greater than chance; indeed, they routinely make erroneous judgments.16,17 The method of behavior analysis taught by the police training firm Reid and Associates has been found empirically to lower judgment accuracy, leading Kassin and Fong to conclude that âthe Reid technique may not be effectiveâand, indeed, may be counterproductiveâas a method of distinguishing truth and deceptionâ (Ref. NOTE: We only request your email address so that the person you are recommending the page to knows that you wanted them to see it, and that it is not junk mail. Coercion and compliance: the psychology of police confessions, in The Triple Revolution. Misinformation and wrongful convictions, in Wrongly Convicted: Perspectives on Failed Justice. Voluntary false confessions are self-incriminating statements that are offered to police without external pressure. Even defense attorneys treat suspects who confess more harshly, often pressuring them to accept a guilty plea to a lesser charge to avoid the higher sentence that will inevitably follow from a jury conviction.51,52 As the California Supreme Court has noted, âthe confession operates as a kind of evidentiary bombshell which shatters the defense.â53 American judges too tend to presume that a defendant who has confessed is guilty and, accordingly, treat him more punitively. Threats and promises can take a variety of forms, and they are usually repeated, developed, and elaborated over the course of the interrogation. False confessions are therefore the most incriminating and persuasive false evidence of guilt that the state can bring against an innocent defendant. A false confession is an admission (âI did itâ) plus a postadmission narrative (a detailed description of how and why the crime occurred) of a crime that the confessor did not commit. Astonishingly, false confessions are fairly common. Unfortunately, some of these confessions are false and result in the conviction of an innocent person. Such false … However, social scientific studies have repeatedly demonstrated across a variety of contexts that people are poor human lie detectors and thus are highly prone to error in their judgment about whether an individual is lying or telling the truth. Voluntary false confessions are thus explained by the internal psychological states or needs of the confessor 9 or by external pressure brought to bear on the confessor by someone other than the police. There are three sequential errors, which occur during a police-elicited false confession, that lead to a wrongful conviction. Despite his lack of memory, once the suspect is over the line,21 he is ready for the third and final step in the making of a persuaded false confession: the construction of the postadmission narrative. Despite substantial documentation and analysis by scholars,8,9the phenomenon of police-induced false confessions remains counterintuitive to most people. A suspect's confession sets in motion a seemingly irrefutable presumption of guilt among justice officials, the media, the public, and lay jurors.8 This chain of events in effect leads each part of the system to be stacked against the individual who confesses, and as a result he is treated more harshly at every stage of the investigative and trial process.45 He is significantly more likely to be incarcerated before trial, charged, pressured to plead guilty, and convicted. It is suggested that voluntary false confessions may be an overlooked feature ofMunchausen syndrome. Physical and Psychological Reasons, The Crimes of Florida Death Row Inmate Tiffany Cole, Profile of Andrei Chikatilo, Serial Killer, Dickerson v. United States: Supreme Court Case, Arguments, Impact, The Difference Between Procedural Law and Substantive Law. But there are other reasons that people make voluntary false confessions: In the other two types of false confession, the person basically confesses because they see confessing as the only way out of the situation they find themselves in at the time. 33, p 77). Although many may fit the description, the target may be chosen simply because he happens to be noticed by the police, reported by someone who had seen a police sketch or falsely identified from a mug shot or lineup, or he fits an official profile of the perpetrator. 10 Controversial Convictions Based on False Confessions. Some persuaded false confessors bend to the demands of their interrogators and confess in declarative language (e.g., âI didâ instead of âI must have doneâ), even though they lack any knowledge or memory of the crime; others continue to use equivocal, speculative, and uncertain language (âI must have done it,â âI probably did it,â âI guess I did it,â âI could have done itâ), insisting that they still do not know or remember the details. The point at which they are willing to tell a detective what he wants to hear to escape an aversive interrogation is often far lower than that of a mentally normal individual, especially if the interrogation is prolonged. Why Do Innocent People Confess to Crimes They Did Not Commit?" Interrogation techniques are meant to cause the suspect to perceive that his guilt has been established beyond any conceivable doubt, that no one will believe his claims of innocence, and that by continuing to deny the detectivesâ accusations he will only make his situation (and the ultimate outcome of the case against him) much worse. As a result, âthe mentally ill are especially vulnerable either to giving false confessions or to misunderstanding the context of their confessions, thus making statements against their own best interests that an average criminal suspect would not makeâ (Ref. A case of Munchausen syndrome associated with habitual voluntary false confessions is described. Although 10 states (Alaska, Minnesota, Illinois, Maine, New Mexico, Wisconsin, New Jersey, North Carolina, Maryland, and Nebraska) and the District of Columbia now require that police record interrogations in their entirety in some or all criminal cases, most police departments, as well as the FBI, still do not record interrogations, and there remains resistance to the idea in many quarters of law enforcement.60 Researchers have proposed other reforms as well, including improved police training about false confessions, pretrial reliability hearings to exclude false-confession evidence, putting time limits on interrogations, prohibiting certain interrogation techniques, greater provision of expert witness testimony and cautionary jury instructions at trial, and providing additional safeguards for vulnerable populations such as the developmentally disabled and juveniles.7. Compliant false confessions are typically recanted shortly after the interrogation is over. Youth is also a significant risk factor for police-induced false confessions.28,29 Many of the developmental traits that characterize the developmentally disabled may also characterize young children and adolescents. The most potent psychological inducement is the suggestion that the suspect will be treated more leniently if he confesses and more punitively if he does not. Unfortunately, some of these confessions are false and result in the conviction of an innocent person. There are several reasons that suspects give compliant false confessions. The postadmission narrative makes the story appear, at least on its face, to be a compelling account of the suspect's guilt. On the other hand, a spontaneous or voluntary false confession involves a person confessing to a crime he or she did not commit, absent police interrogation. This language of uncertainty is present in all persuaded false confessions. There have been numerous documented cases of false confessions from the developmentally disabled in recent years.5. Indeed, as more and more wrongful convictions are discovered, often as a result of newly av… Copyright © 2020 by The American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, Sign In to Email Alerts with your Email Address. It is perhaps not surprising that most documented false confessions occur in homicides and high-profile cases.2,5, Once interrogation commences, the primary cause of police-induced false confession is psychologically coercive police methods.20 Psychological coercion can be defined in two ways: police use of interrogation techniques that are regarded as inherently coercive in psychology and law, or police use of interrogation techniques that, cumulatively, cause a suspect to perceive that he has no choice but to comply with the interrogatorsâ demands. Thank you for your interest in recommending The Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law site. Why would someone who is innocent confess to a crime? In Spite of Innocence: Erroneous Convictions in Capital Cases. There is minimal to no pressure from the police because the person usually confesses right away (Schwartz, 2016, p. 36). (The Chicago-based firm Reid and Associates, for example, claims that detectives can learn to discriminate truth and deception accurately 85 percent of the time, although this rate seems to be represented in their training seminars as 100 percent.7) Detectives are misleadingly taught, for example, that the subject who averts his gaze, slouches, shifts his body posture, touches his nose, adjusts or cleans his glasses, chews his fingernails, or strokes the back of his head is likely to be lying and thus is guilty.7 The subject who is guarded, uncooperative, and offers broad denials and qualified responses is also believed to be deceptive and therefore guilty. Persons at risk during interviews in police custody: the identification of vulnerabilities. The five teenagers had confessed under extreme pressure from investigators simply because they wanted the brutal interrogations to stop and they were told they could go home if they confessed. Psychologically coercive interrogation techniques include some examples of the old third degree, such as deprivations (of food, sleep, water, or access to bathroom facilities, for example), incommunicado interrogation, and induction of extreme exhaustion and fatigue. 3.Bruce A. Robinson. Once the suspect is convinced, he comes to believe that it is more likely than not that he committed the crime. Second, even if one could identify a set of possibly false confessions, it is not usually possible as a practical matter to obtain the primary case materials (e.g., police reports, pretrial and trial transcripts, and electronic recordings of the interrogations) necessary to evaluate the unreliability of these confessions. False confessions can be categorized into three general types, as outlined by American Saul Kassin in an article for Current Directions in Psychological Science: Voluntary false confessions are those that are given freely, without police prompting. The developmentally disabled eagerly assume blame or knowingly provide incorrect answers to please, curry favor with, or seek the approval of an authority figure. Youth (especially young children) also lack the cognitive capacity and judgment to understand the nature or gravity of an interrogation or the long-term consequences of their responses to police questions. In the past two decades, hundreds of convicted prisoners have been exonerated by DNA and non-DNA evidence, revealing that police-induced false confessions are a leading cause of wrongful conviction of the innocent. Ingram later realized that his "memories" of the crimes were false, but he was sentenced to 20 years in prison for crimes he did not commit and which may never actually happened, according to Bruce Robinson, the Coordinator for The Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance. The Criminal Justice System and Mental Retardation: Defendants and Victims. The content of and rhetorical force of a suspect's postadmission narrative explains, in part, why confessions are treated as such powerful evidence of guilt and sometimes lead to the prosecution and conviction of the innocent.7. False confessions may also be used in attempts to avoid harsh sentences, for example if a person pleads guilty to a lesser offense that they did not actually commit. Interrogators may also try to make the admission appear to be voluntary, portraying the suspect as the agent of his own confession and themselves merely as its passive recipient. It was known to the two juries that later convicted the boys. There are many cognitive errors that lead police to classify an innocent person mistakenly as a guilty suspect. They also do not include false confessions that were dismissed or disproved before trial, those that resulted in guilty pleas, those given for crimes that were not subject to postconviction review (especially less serious crimes), and those given in cases that contain confidentiality provisions (e.g., juvenile proceedings). In the Central Park Jogger case, for example, all five juveniles falsely confessed after lengthy unrecorded interrogations in which they were yelled at, lied to, threatened, and promised immunity in exchange for their admissions to participating in the assault and rape.5 In 15 to 20 percent of the DNA cases, police-induced false confessions were the primary cause of the wrongful conviction.6,7 Here too, however, the documented cases appear to represent the proverbial tip of the iceberg, as the DNA exonerations again do not include most cases in which there is no DNA to test. The suspect may perceive that he has no choice but to comply with the detectivesâ wishes, because he is fatigued, worn down, or simply sees no other way to escape an intolerably stressful experience. To date, more than 220 individuals have been exonerated by postconviction DNA testing and released from prison, some from death row (e.g., see the Innocence Project at www.innocenceproject.org). They have adapted to their cognitive disability by learning to submit to and comply with the demands of others, again especially those of authority figures.27 Because of their desire to please, they are easily influenced and led to comply in situations of conflict. Once detectives misclassify an innocent person as a guilty suspect, they often subject him to an accusatorial interrogation. According to Richard Ofshe, a sociologist at the University of California, Berkeley, "Mentally retarded people get through life by being accommodating whenever there is a disagreement. Their limited intellectual intelligence translates into a limited social intelligence as well: they do not always fully comprehend the context or complexity of certain social interactions or situations, particularly adversarial ones, including a police interrogation. Some suspects come to believe that the only way they will be able to leave is if they do what the detectives say. If one understands the psychological structure and logic of contemporary interrogation, it is not difficult to see how it can produce this effect. To convince the suspect that it is plausible, and likely, that he committed the crime, the interrogators must supply him with a reason that satisfactorily explains how he could have done it without remembering it. In this article, I will review and analyze the empirical research on the causes and correlates of false confessions, the psychological logic and various types of false confession, and the consequences of introducing false-confession evidence at trials. 59, p 134). Facing an overbearing interrogator who refuses to take no for an answer, he may reason that telling the interrogator what he wants to hear is the only way to escape.21. These are cases, and they often happen in high-profile cases that are in the news, where people come out of the woodwork and volunteer confessions to crimes that are in the news that they didn’t commit. Scientists say these kinds of false confessions are prompted by a pathological desire for notoriety, meaning they are the result of some mentally disturbed condition. As Salas points out: âMental illness makes people suggestible and susceptible to the slightest form of pressure; coercion can take place much more easily, and in situations that a ânormalâ person might not find coerciveâ (Ref. Beginning with the Salem witch trials of 1692, numerous false confessions surfaced when it was later discovered that the confessed crime had not been committed (e.g., the alleged victim turned up alive) or that it was physically impossible (e.g., the confessor was demonstrably elsewhere) or when the real perpetrator was apprehended (e.g., by ballistics evidence). The first mistake occurs when detectives erroneously decide that an innocent person is guilty. His accusatorial techniques are also designed to induce distress by attacking the suspect's self-confidence, by not permitting him to assert his innocence, and by causing him to feel powerless and trapped. Getting a confession becomes particularly important when there is no other evidence against the suspect, especially in high-profile cases in which there is great pressure on police detectives to solve the crime, there is no other source of potential evidence to be discovered,19 and typically there is no credible evidence against an innocent but misclassified suspect. A ‘voluntary false confession’ is a self-incriminating statement that is offered without external pressure from the police. For simplicity, researchers have dropped the various prefixes and simply refer to voluntary, compliant, and persuaded false confessions.7 It is important to understand that there are three conceptually distinct psychological processes at work in the production and elicitation of false confessions. If the defendant's case goes to trial, the jury treats the confession as more probative of the defendant's guilt than any other type of evidence (short of a videotape of the suspect committing the crime), especially if, as in virtually all high profile cases, the confession receives pretrial publicity.8,44,55 False confessions are highly likely to lead to the wrongful conviction of the innocent. As a result, empirical researchers have also suggested ways to minimize both the number of false confessions that police elicit and the number of false confessions that, once elicited, lead to wrongful convictions. Others comply because they are led to believe that it is the only way to avoid a feared outcome (e.g., homosexual rape in prison). This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions. The tenor of justice: criminal courts and the guilty plea process. Although other researchers have also documented and analyzed numerous false confessions in recent years, we do not know how frequently they occur. The classic example of this type of false confession is the Lindbergh kidnapping case. The consequences of these false confessions are disastrous for innocent individuals who are wrongfully convicted and incarcerated. In the modern era, however, these techniques are rare in domestic police interrogations. 14, p 124). At some point, however, the suspect realizes that they are not going to credit his assertions of innocence. Once specific suspects are targeted, police interviews and interrogations are thereafter guided by the presumption of guiltâ (Ref. Innocence Project cases have shown that youth, mental health issues and aggressive law enforcement tactics contribute to many false confessions. Some observers refer to this as âbiased responding.â26 The developmentally disabled answer affirmatively when they perceive a response to be desirable and negatively when they perceive it to be undesirable. But voluntary false confessions need not be rooted in psychological maladies. As Davis and Leo point out, âthe path to false confession begins, as it must, when police target an innocent suspectâ¦. More than 200 people came forward to confess that they had kidnapped the baby of the famous aviator Charles Lindbergh. Voluntary False Confession – a false confession knowingly given in response to little or no police pressure. The interrogator's interpersonal style may also be a source of distress: he may be confrontational, insistent, demanding, overbearing, deceptive, hostile, and manipulative. Enter multiple addresses on separate lines or separate them with commas. Most false confession cases involve police interrogations. Tales from the juvenile confession front: a guide to how standard police interrogation tactics can produce coerced and false confessions from juvenile suspects, in Interrogations, Confessions, and Entrapment. Unlike most police interrogation techniques, promises and threats are neither standard nor legal; rather, they are regarded as coercive in both psychology and law.41 It is not hard to understand why such threats and promises in combination with standard interrogation techniques, such as repeated accusations, attacks on a suspect's denials, lies about nonexistent evidence, pressure, and inducements, may cause a suspect to confess knowingly to a crime he did not commit. False confession is made without any pressure from the way that an innocent person far often! Lead to a wrongful conviction voluntary decides to confess they committed a crime they did n't actually commit to. Of surviving. `` plea process F. Robust Trust in Expert Testimony 2015 - Humana Mente are fairly.... 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