Police 'Science' in the Interrogation Room: Seventy Years of Pseudo-Psychological Interrogation Methods to Obtain Inadmissible Confessions
University of Arkansas School of Law
September 17, 2009
Hastings Law Journal, Vol. 61, p. 529, 2010
Nearly all confessions obtained by interrogators nationwide are inadmissible, but nonetheless admitted. In the process, police arrest the wrong suspect and allow the guilty to go free. An unshakeable addiction to pseudo-scientific interrogation methods - initially created in the 1940s- is to blame. The so-called 'Reid technique' of interrogation was initially a welcome and revolutionary change from the violent 'third degree' method it replaced. But, we no longer live in the 1940s and, not surprisingly, we no longer drive 1940s automobiles, practice early twentieth century medicine, or dial rotary phones. Why, then, are police still using 1940s methods of interrogation?
Moreover, the outdated Reid technique was premised on the very same principles that underlie the lie detector. At the time of its creation, then, the Reid technique was crafted from a 'science' already discredited by nearly every court in the nation. From a policy standpoint, continued reliance on the Reid technique does a disservice to our justice system and unnecessarily risks obtaining inherently unreliable confessions. From an evidentiary standpoint, the methodology underlying the Reid technique fails every aspect of the Supreme Court’s standards governing the admission of expert evidence. This Article therefore contends that all confessions obtained pursuant to the Reid method are - and were - absolutely inadmissible.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 49Accepted Paper Series
Date posted: September 17, 2009 ; Last revised: March 18, 2013
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