The NYTimes reports on the latest research:
Experts have long known that some kinds of people — including the mentally impaired, the mentally ill, the young and the easily led — are the likeliest to be induced to confess. There are also people like Mr. Lowery, who says he was just pressed beyond endurance by persistent interrogators.
New research shows how people who were apparently uninvolved in a crime could provide such a detailed account of what occurred, allowing prosecutors to claim that only the defendant could have committed the crime.
Brandon L. Garrett, a professor at the University of Virginia School of Law collected the false confessions:
“I expected, and think people intuitively think, that a false confession would look flimsy,” like someone saying simply, “I did it,” he said.
Instead, he said, “almost all of these confessions looked uncannily reliable,” rich in telling detail that almost inevitably had to come from the police. “I had known that in a couple of these cases, contamination could have occurred,” he said, using a term in police circles for introducing facts into the interrogation process. “I didn’t expect to see that almost all of them had been contaminated.”
You confess, you’re sunk:
Eight of the defendants in Professor Garrett’s study had actually been cleared by DNA evidence before trial, but the courts convicted them anyway.
Read the story. In it former police detective Jim Trainum advocates videotaping of all interrogations.
The least we can do.
RELATED: Trainum wrote a 2008 LATimes op-ed while he was still a detective in Washington’s Metropolitan Police Department. In it he explains that he once believed no one would confess to a crime they didn’t commit until he secured a false confession in a murder case.