The Truth About False Confessions

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Beyond Torture
 
Last night President Obama unequivocally declared that the U.S. will not engage in torture. That's welcome. Torture is bad policy for several reasons, including its tendency to produce false confessions. But we must not get the idea that anything short of torture is a legitimate interrogation tool. To the contrary, modern interrogation techniques, relying on bullying and deception, cause false confessions. It's good that we will no longer be torturing suspected terrorists. But we need to change the way we interrogate all suspects.   
 
8:13 am est

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Numbers Update
 
The Innocence Project reports 232 cases of post-conviction DNA exoneration, including 5 already this year.  In roughly 25% of those cases, the person wrongly convicted made incriminating admissions, pled guilty, or gave an outright false confession.
 
 
8:56 am est

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Wisdom In New York
 
Earlier this month, the New York State Bar Association released a report based on study of 53 overturned convictions.  The study found the usual causes of wrongful conviction, including faulty identification, mishandling of forensic evidence, and reliance on false confessions. Critically, the report calls for electronic recording of all interrogations of felony suspects.
 
12:25 pm est

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Corruption Of Evidence
 

This discusses an important collateral problem of false confessions they corrupt other evidence.

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7:27 pm est

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

False Accusations
 
As the cases of perjury against baseball stars Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens move forward, it's worth keeping in mind that ideally the presumption of innocence extends beyond the court of law and to the court of public opinion. Just as there are many false confessions, there are many false accusations, and often for the same reason -- pressure from law enforcement authorities.
 
 
8:47 pm est


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