Saturday, February 5, 2011

Research Review: The Lie, The Bluff and False Confessions

From John E. Reid & Associates:
One of the most controversial aspects of criminal interrogation involves the use of trickery and deceit.

While Federal and State Supreme Courts routinely uphold confessions that were obtained from interrogations during which the suspect was falsely told that there was incriminating evidence, academicians and psychologists have argued that lying to a suspect about having incriminating evidence is unethical, erodes the integrity of the criminal justice system and may induce an innocent suspect to confess.
Considering the necessity of dealing with criminal suspects on a somewhat lower moral plane than the average public, Supreme Court justices have rejected the ethical arguments. While there have been some restrictions placed on the use of trickery and deceit during an interrogation, e.g., manufacturing evidence against a suspect, the prevailing logic has been that merely lying to a suspect about having incriminating evidence would not be apt to cause an innocent person to confess. As a recent appeals court ruled, "such misrepresentations (lying about having evidence), of course may cause a suspect to confess, but causation alone does not constitute coercion..."

A recent study challenges this basic premise.  Read more regarding Research Review: The Lie, The Bluff and False Confessions, the reported research study and find answers to the following questions and more:
  • In light of new research, should investigators be prohibited from lying to suspects about incriminating evidence?
  • What is a clearly improper technique to introduce incriminating evidence during an interrogation?
  • Why is it often improper to generalize laboratory research findings to field situations?

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