Serious Discussions Needed on Police Tactics and False Confessions
Falkoff, Marc D.
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It’s a phenomenon that detectives, prosecutors, jurors and even defense lawyers typically have trouble believing: Sometimes suspects will confess to serious crimes even when they are completely innocent. “I certainly wouldn’t confess to a crime I didn’t commit!” we all think. But false confessions happen all the time and recent DNA exonerations and psychological studies suggest they occur more frequently than anyone involved with the criminal justice system should tolerate. Journalists and academic researchers increasingly understand how the typical police interrogation in the United States is structured to elicit confessions rather than gather accurate information about a crime. The techniques used by detectives are so effective that innocent people will often confess even if they are not physically abused by the interrogator.