News 01.07.10

How to Stop False Confessions

A new article in the journal Law and Human Behavior by John Jay College Professor Saul Kassin and several other false confession experts examines the causes of false confessions and calls for law enforcement agencies videotape all interrogations to prevent injustice.

False confessions were a factor in about one-quarter of all wrongful convictions overturned to date through DNA testing. The contributing factors discussed in the new article are found in many DNA exoneration cases, including juvenile or mentally challenged suspects, intoxicated suspects, long periods of interrogation and infliction of harm by interrogators.

Kassin and the paper's other authors reach a clear conclusion: recording interrogations prevents false confessions. Empirical studies have shown that recording reduces the chance for false confessions. More than 500 jurisdictions across the country already record interrogations, and they have found that the practice also creates a valuable record for police and prosecutors to use at trial. The paper also calls for reforms to interrogation methods in tandem with the introduction of recording.


Download the full paper here

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Gideon, blogging at a public defender, delves deep into the article and offers tips for public defenders dealing with confession cases.

Read his post here

.

Read about the Innocence Project's recommendations on

recording of interrogations

.

Watch

a video of Texas exoneree Chris Ochoa

describing his false confession and eventual exoneration.

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