Missing the Forest for the Trees: A Response to Paul Cassell's 'Balanced Approach' to the False Confession Problem

10 Pages Posted: 19 May 2008  

Richard A. Leo

University of San Francisco - School of Law

Richard J. Ofshe

University of California, Berkeley - Department of Sociology

Abstract

This article addresses the issue of false confessions through its directed response to Paul Cassell's Balanced Approaches to the False Confession Problem: A Brief Comment on Ofshe, Leo and Alschuler. In an earlier article, The Decision to Confess Falsely: Rational Choice and Irrational Action, the authors developed a decision model that analyzed and explained how modern methods of psychologically-based interrogation lead both to true confessions from the guilty and false confessions from the innocent. The central point of this earlier article was that false confessions will occur when commonplace interrogation methods are used improperly. In this response to Cassell, the authors declare that Cassell's critique of their article mistakenly focuses on their contention that false confessions are numerous. The goal of their earlier article was to describe how interrogations are conducted in America, explain why they sometimes produce false confessions, and propose the use of mandatory recording of interrogations as a step towards minimizing false confessions. Cassell's response ignored these central points and instead criticized the authors' assertions about the frequency of false confessions and their policy recommendations.

Keywords: Criminal procedure, false confessions, interrogations, taping, recording, law enforcement, Paul Cassell

Suggested Citation

Leo, Richard A. and Ofshe, Richard J., Missing the Forest for the Trees: A Response to Paul Cassell's 'Balanced Approach' to the False Confession Problem. Denver University Law Review, Vol. 74, 1997. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1134044

Richard A. Leo (Contact Author)

University of San Francisco - School of Law ( email )

2130 Fulton Street
San Francisco, CA 94117
United States

Richard J. Ofshe

University of California, Berkeley - Department of Sociology ( email )

410 Barrows Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States

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