Inside the Interrogation Room

38 Pages Posted: 16 May 2008

See all articles by Richard A. Leo

Richard A. Leo

University of San Francisco - School of Law


This article takes the reader inside the interrogation room in order to analyze the characteristics, context and outcome of police interrogation practices in America. This study is the first in over twenty-five years to examine routine police interrogation practices in America through field research. The data is based on nine months of observation in a major, urban police department involving 122 interrogations and 45 detectives. It also relies on 60 videotaped custodial interrogations from two additional police departments.

The article attempts to fill in the gap left by criminal interrogation scholars who have failed to employ empirical research on police interrogation practices in their studies. The article asserts that the techniques that Miranda was designed to address, such as undermining suspects' confidence in their denials and confronting suspects with fabricated evidence of their guilt, continue to be used in contemporary American police interrogations. It also suggests that interrogators have become increasingly successful at eliciting incriminating information from custodial suspects in the last thirty years. These findings confirm that interrogation methods exert a fateful effect on criminal cases at every subsequent stage in the criminal justice system.

Keywords: Criminal procedure, Miranda, law enforcement, interrogation techniques, empirical legal research

Suggested Citation

Leo, Richard A., Inside the Interrogation Room. Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, Vol. 86, 1996. Available at SSRN:

Richard A. Leo (Contact Author)

University of San Francisco - School of Law ( email )

2130 Fulton Street
San Francisco, CA 94117
United States

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