Strategies for Preventing False Confessions and Their Consequences
PRACTICAL PSYCHOLOGY FOR FORENSIC INVESTIGATIONS AND PROSECUTIONS, Mark R. Kebbell and Graham M. Davies, eds., Wiley & Sons, 2006
31 Pages Posted: 17 Jan 2010 Last revised: 2 Aug 2011
Researchers have amply documented that contemporary methods of psychological interrogation can, and sometimes do, lead innocent individuals to confess falsely to serious crimes. The consequences of these false confessions can be disastrous for innocent individuals. This chapter reviews the primary causes of false confession and resultant miscarriages of justice that are subject to the influence of law enforcement and the courts. We first review the major identifiable causes of false confession, offering suggestions for ways to minimize or avoid them. We offer four primary strategies for prevention of false confessions: (i) interrogation only of those for whom there is sufficient probable cause to support guilt; (ii) educating law enforcement concerning the potential for and causes of false confessions; (iii) avoiding practices known to promote false confession; and (iv) greater training and sensitivity to the psychological vulnerabilities that render some suspects unusually susceptible to influence. Finally, we outline strategies for recognizing false confessions when they do occur, and thereby for minimizing their consequences.
Keywords: false confessions, wrongful convictions, interrogation methods, police, law enforcement
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