Friday, February 14, 2014
Death Penalty Stopped
1:22 pm est
The governor of Washington state has suspended application of capital punishment, citing flaws in the system. Surely those
flaws include the risk of convicting the innocent (whether because of a false confession of something else).
action is a welcome development.
Thursday, January 16, 2014
11:16 am est
Marty Tankleff, whose false confession gave rise to the first post on this website, has received more than $3.3 million
from New York in a settlement of his civil lawsuit against the state.
Monday, December 30, 2013
12:47 pm est
DNA exonerations in 2013 reached double digits
(10 on the nose), which has been true every year starting 1999. The Innocence Project reports that in roughly 25% of the 312
DNA exonerations to date, the wrongly convicted person gave a full false confession or at least made incriminating statements.
Thursday, November 14, 2013
Psychology of False Confessions
9:24 am est
important laboratory research helps us understand why an innocent person might confess to a crime
Tuesday, September 24, 2013
Good Deed Punished
8:57 am est
The nomination of William Thomas
to a Federal District Court judgeship in Florida has been blocked in part because, as a
state court judge, Thomas excluded the confession of a teenage boy who was not
properly read his Miranda rights.
Especially given the prevalence of false confessions by juveniles, this
seems a classic case of a good deed punished.
Sunday, August 4, 2013
Serial False Confessions
10:17 pm est
Check out this fascinating story involving multiple false confessions.
Friday, June 14, 2013
9:23 am est
Are some false confessions fabricated by law enforcement? This article raises that disturbing possibility.
Tuesday, June 4, 2013
8:47 am est
Yesterday's Supreme Court decision, enhancing law
enforcement's access to DNA, is on balance a good thing. While privacy concerns warrant respect, we mustn't forget the hundreds
of wrongful convictions ascertained through DNA tests. (Many of those exonerated has given false confessions.)
Monday, May 6, 2013
11:28 am est
From a New York Times article on Saturday about a
Mississippi inmate scheduled for execution who has been DNA tests that could exonerate him: "There have been many instances
when seemingly strong cases -- even some where defendants themselves confessed -- fell apart after DNA testing." Indeed, DNA
testing is one of the main ways we've learned about the surprising prevalence of false confessions.
Monday, April 15, 2013
Multiple False Confessions
5:11 pm est
I urge everyone to watch the PBS documentary on the Central Park
Five -- a staggering case of multiple false confessions.
Saturday, March 9, 2013
11:38 am est
My chat with Candice DeLong, about the Ryan Ferguson case and false confessions
generally, can be heard here. It's the March 9, 1 a.m. podcast.
Monday, January 28, 2013
1:25 pm est
We're now learning that, 13 years ago, a Colorado Grand Jury voted to
indict the parents of JonBenet Ramsey. The DA, recognizing that he could not possibly establish guilt beyond a reasonable
doubt, chose not to move the case forward. Kudos to him. Prosecutors are supposed to exercise such judgment to
promote justice, not solely to seek prosecutions. (The Ramsey case featured a notorious false confession by John Mark
Friday, January 4, 2013
8:32 am est
Today's New York Times' front page story on a false confession in West
Virginia makes an important point: "laws are needed to remove [DNA] databases from the exclusive grip of prosecutors and law
enforcement to make them available to defense lawyers."
Saturday, December 15, 2012
Documented False Confessions
3:35 pm est
From a recent article in the New York Times: "a robust body of evidence
has emerged . . . that innocent people will confess to crimes." Given that hundreds of false confessions have been documented,
this qualifies as serious understatement.
Wednesday, November 14, 2012
8:17 am est
Needless to say, false confessions are not the only source of wrongful
convictions. This is an important article about another significant problem -- prosecutorial
Tuesday, October 16, 2012
Historic False Confession
7:56 am est
This man's false confession helped lead to Miranda warnings. At least
some good came of the tragedy, which usually isn't the case.
Tuesday, October 9, 2012
2:34 pm est
The Innocence Project now reports 300 cases of persons wrongly convicted
who were exonerated by DNA testing. Roughly 25% had given false confessions.
Monday, August 20, 2012
8:35 am est
Hugo Bedau passed away last week. Bedau's very important study (coauthored
with Michael Radelet) in 1987 identified 350 wrongful convictions in capital cases, of which 49 involved false confessions.
His pioneering work will long survive him.
Thursday, July 19, 2012
Truth About Lie Detection
9:23 am est
Earlier this week, the New York Times ran an item debunking the notion
that people can spot a lie by watching someone's eyes. The myth that interrogators can determine innocence or guilt through
such means is a major contributor to false confessions.
Tuesday, July 3, 2012
The Real World
10:20 am est
A recent article in the New York Times noted that criminal trials
are "vanishingly rare" and plea bargaining represents "the real world of criminal justice." This observation is true and important,
especially since the plea bargaining process is fertile terrain for false confessions.