Psychological and Cultural Aspects of Interrogations and False Confessions: Using Research to Inform Legal Decision-Making
Richard A. Leo
University of San Francisco - School of Law
Claremont Colleges - Claremont McKenna College
Claremont Colleges - Claremont Graduate University
PSYCHOLOGICAL EXPERTISE IN COURT: PSYCHOLOGY IN THE COURTROOM, Daniel A. Krauss, Joes D. Lieberman, eds., Ashgate, 2009
Univ. of San Francisco Law Research Paper No. 2011-06
False confessions are a major cause of wrongful convictions. In many countries, physical abuse and torture are still used to extract confessions from criminal suspects. Cultural orientations such as collectivism and power distance may influence the tendency to confess, and a suspect's past experience in a country that uses physical abuse during interrogations may render suspects fearful and more prone to falsely confess. After looking at interrogations outside the United States, we examine the issue of why false confessions sometime occur in the U.S. legal system. We prove an overview of the stages of a typical interrogation and provide a psychological analysis of the array of tactics used by police interrogators. Finally, we describe several reforms that hold the potential to dramatically reduce the risk of false confessions.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 34
Keywords: wrongful convictions, false confessions, interrogations, police, law enforcement
Date posted: January 18, 2010 ; Last revised: March 25, 2011
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