Interrogation and False Confessions in Rape Cases
Robert Hazelwood and Ann Burgess, eds., Practical Aspects of Rape Investigation: A Multidisciplinary Approach (CRC Press, 5th ed., 2017, Forthcoming)
22 Pages Posted: 9 Dec 2015 Last revised: 22 Mar 2016
Date Written: December 1, 2015
Of the 1,705 post-conviction DNA and non-DNA exonerations that have occurred from 1989 to the end of 2015, approximately 13 percent of these wrongful convictions were due to false confessions, and virtually all of these occurred in either homicide or rape cases. This chapter discusses why false confessions occur and discusses the ways that law enforcement training can be modified to avoid false confessions. False confessions primarily occur due to a lack of proper training, poor investigative practices, and the use of scientifically invalidated and/or high risk interrogation techniques and strategies. To safeguard against false confessions, the author argues that investigators should receive training on the following topics: 1) the existence, variety, causes and psychology of false confessions; 2) the indicia of reliable and unreliable statements and how to distinguish between them; 3) the need to obtain corroborating evidence to verify suspects’ confessions; and 4) avoidance of inadvertent contamination of interrogations by disclosure of non-public case facts to suspects.
Keywords: false confessions, wrongful conviction, criminal law, criminal procedure, interrogation, contamination
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