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What Would People Think?

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

False Confessions

From the NY Times: Inmate to Be Freed As DNA Tests Upend Murder Confession

One of the reasons we have wrongful convictions is the enduring myth that no innocent person would ever confess to a crime he didn't commit. This myth has a basis in common sense and human self-interest, but fails to account for the psychological techniques used in police interrogations - techniques intended to break down resistance and lead to confession. Sometimes, it breaks down the resistance even of people who were actually innocent.

This is something the public should know. For more on false confessions, see this write-up by the Innocence Project.


  • You're absolutely right on false confessions. I believe I've quoted this before on this very blog, but I again paraphrase Nice Guy Eddie (edited to comply with family blog restrictions): "If you beat this guy enough, he'll tell you he started the Chicago fire, but that don't necessarily make it so." I can actually see where it would be remarkably easy to convince a scared, innocent human being to confess to a crime. Even moreso if they are uneducated, I suspect. Scary.

    By Blogger Mike, at 5/17/2006 10:03 AM  

  • And it's not just beatings. With all due respect to Nice Guy Eddie (who wasn't that nice of a guy), but beatings aren't the favored method of getting a confession these days. Police interrogation techniques have gotten a lot more sophisticated. They've got effective psychological techniques to break down one's resistance. People don't ask for a lawyer because they think that would be an admission of guilt...then they are left feeling isolated & powerless and confession starts to seem like the only way to make the ordeal end. It's a technique that's made lots of guilty people and, it appears, not a few innocent people confess.

    By Blogger Ben, at 5/17/2006 1:17 PM  

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