Convicting the Innocent: Errors of Criminal Justice. They are consistently one of the leading, yet most misunderstood, causes of error in the American legal system and thus remain one of the most prejudicial sources of false evidence that lead to wrongful convictions. Like the developmentally disabled, juveniles also have limited language skills, memory, attention span, and information-processing abilities compared with normal adults. Popular Justice: A History of American Criminal Justice (ed 2). Under to the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, due process requires that all confessions obtained by the police must be voluntary. False confessions can be categorized into three general types, as outlined by American Saul Kassin in an article for Current Directions in Psychological Science: Voluntary false confessions are those that are given freely, without police prompting. Voluntary false confessions No promoting or pressure. Once specific suspects are targeted, police interviews and interrogations are thereafter guided by the presumption of guilt” (Ref. "False Confessions By Adults" Justice: Denied Magazine. The road to perdition: extreme influence tactics in the interrogation room, in Handbook of Forensic Psychology. Like police, prosecutors rarely consider the possibility that an entirely innocent suspect has falsely confessed; some prosecutors are so skeptical of the idea of police-induced false confession that they stubbornly refuse to admit that it occurred, even after DNA evidence has unequivocally established the defendant's innocence.48 Once a suspect has confessed, prosecutors tend to charge him with the highest number and types of offenses49 and set his bail at a higher amount50 (especially in serious or high profile cases), and they are far less likely to initiate or accept a plea bargain to a reduced charge.21 The confession becomes the centerpiece of the prosecution's case against the defendant. On the other hand, a spontaneous or voluntary false confession involves a person confessing to a crime he or she did not commit, absent police interrogation. Kassin calls such false confessions… As Salas points out: “Mental illness makes people suggestible and susceptible to the slightest form of pressure; coercion can take place much more easily, and in situations that a ‘normal’ person might not find coercive” (Ref. They are therefore less likely to resist the pressures of confrontational police questioning and more likely to comply with the demands of their accusers, even if this means knowingly making a false confession. They all converge on the same conclusion: that, as the U.S. Supreme Court stated in the case of Arizona v. Fulminante, “a confession is like no other evidence.”57 It is “uniquely potent”58 in its ability to bias the trier of fact in favor of the prosecution, overwrite contradictory or exculpatory case evidence, and lead to the wrongful conviction of the innocent.8 Researchers have demonstrated that mock jurors find confession evidence more incriminating than any other type of evidence.44,58 Kassin and Sukel55 found that confessions powerfully increased the conviction rate even when mock jurors viewed the confession as coerced, even when they were instructed to disregard the confession as inadmissible, and even when they reported that it had no influence on their verdict. To understand why criminal suspects give false confessions, we must first understand how police investigators target criminal suspects and how police interrogation works as a psychological process, before eliciting a suspect's admission and in the postadmission stage of interrogation. Psychologically oriented interrogation techniques are just as capable of eliciting compliant false confessions as are physical ones. Research tells us that there is no simple ​answer because many different psychological factors can lead someone to make a false confession. A Retrospective Review of the Use of Clozapine in Restoration of Competency to Stand Trial, Florida Law Enforcement Policies for and Experience With, Knowledge and Attitudes of Psychiatrists About the Gun Rights of Persons With Mental Illness, by The American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, The Causes of False Confession: Misclassification, Coercion, and Contamination, The Consequences of Police-Induced False Confessions, American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law. There are many cognitive errors that lead police to classify an innocent person mistakenly as a guilty suspect. He or she may suggest, for example, that the suspect experienced an alcohol- or drug-induced blackout, a “dry” blackout, a multiple personality disorder, a momentary lapse in consciousness, or posttraumatic stress disorder, or, perhaps most commonly, that the suspect simply repressed his memory of committing the crime because it was a traumatic experience for him. Coerced-compliant false confessions are those in which a suspect confesses to police in order to escape an aversive interrogation, avoid an explicit or … Voluntary false confessions These confessions most often happen when the suspect has an underlying mental or psychological condition that distorts reality. While the mentally ill are likely to make voluntary false confessions, they may also be easily coerced into making compliant ones. Ofshe and Leo20 have identified “classically coercive influence techniques” (i.e., threats and promises, explicit or implied) as the root cause of most compliant false confessions in the modern era. A false confession can be defined as 'a criminal act that the confessor either did not commit or is ignorant of having committed'. Compliant false confessions are typically recanted shortly after the interrogation is over. The most potent psychological inducement is the suggestion that the suspect will be treated more leniently if he confesses and more punitively if he does not. American police are taught, falsely, that they can become human lie detectors capable of distinguishing truth from deception at high, if not near perfect, rates of accuracy. One – there is a category of false confessions known as voluntary false confessions. Once they have elicited a false admission, they pressure the suspect to provide a postadmission narrative that they jointly shape, often supplying the innocent suspect with the (public and nonpublic) facts of the crime. Be sure you speak to your child about what to do if he or she is approached by authorities at school or outside of your presence. They are not, for example, likely to understand that the police detective who appears to be friendly is really their adversary or to grasp the long-term consequences of making an incriminating statement. 52, No. Others comply because they are led to believe that it is the only way to avoid a feared outcome (e.g., homosexual rape in prison). Anchored Narratives: The Psychology of Criminal Evidence. As Welsh White notes, “the system does not have safeguards that will prevent the jury from giving disproportionate weight to such confessions” (Ref. "The Psychology of Confession Evidence," American Psychologist, Vol. 33, p 77). Some observers refer to this as “biased responding.”26 The developmentally disabled answer affirmatively when they perceive a response to be desirable and negatively when they perceive it to be undesirable. There are three sequential errors, which occur during a police-elicited false confession, that lead to a wrongful conviction. Unless he has learned the details of the crime scene from community gossip or the media, an innocent person would not know either the mundane or the dramatic details of the crime.8 The innocent suspect's postadmission narrative should therefore be replete with errors when he responds to questions for which the answers cannot easily be guessed by chance, unless, of course, the answers are implied, suggested, or explicitly provided to the suspect, which, in fact, does occur, whether advertently or inadvertently, in many false-confession cases.8,32 If the entire interrogation is captured on audio or video recording, then it may be possible to trace, step by step, how and when the interrogator implied or suggested the correct answers for the suspect to incorporate into his postadmission narrative. The 14th Amendment of the Trial: their Implications for psychological research in! 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