I’m in the Guardian writing about police interrogation techniques and the dangers of coercive and psychologically manipulative tactics. And in exciting news, the Guardian now going to be a weekly thing, so stay tuned for more. A bit from this latest piece:
The Central Park jogger case is particularly compelling because it flies in the face of what we believe to be common sense about criminal convictions. A confession, it would seem, is the most ironclad proof of guilt: why would anyone in their right mind confess to a crime they didn’t commit? How could five boys all confess to the same crime if they weren’t actually responsible?
What Law & Order and whodunit thrillers won’t tell you is that false confessions are startlingly common. According to the Innocence Project, 25% of innocent defendants who were exonerated with DNA evidence made incriminating statements or full-on confessions. A disproportionate number of those who falsely confess are mentally challenged or have mental health problems; children and adolescents also routinely fail to understand their rights during a police interrogation. And false confessions are, sadly, an American tradition: even back in 1692, 50 different women “confessed” to witchcraft in the Salem witch trials.
Police officers want to get the bad guy, but too often they pick what they believe to be the most plausible story and ratchet the facts into it. By the time the police are interrogating a subject, they’ve determined that the person is probably guilty of the crime. The goal of the interrogation isn’t to learn the truth: it’s to solidify guilt.
You read the whole thing here. Trigger warning for, as would be apparent from the title, discussion of sexual assault.
- Should NYC Compensate the Wrongly Convicted Central Park Five? by Jill November 20, 2012
- The Ethics of Outing Your Rapist by Jill November 9, 2012
- Rape: the sinister blame game by Cara February 16, 2010
- Why the Good Men Project debacle matters. by Jill December 18, 2012
- The real Republican rape platform by Jill October 28, 2012