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Police Interrogation and Suspect Confessions: Social Science, Law and Public Policy

in Erik Luna, ed. Academy for Justice: A Report on Scholarship and Criminal Justice Reform (2017, Forthcoming).

Univ. of San Francisco Law Research Paper No. 2017-06

34 Pages Posted: 22 Mar 2017 Last revised: 31 Mar 2017

Richard A. Leo

University of San Francisco - School of Law

Date Written: March 1, 2017

Abstract

In this chapter, I review and analyze the most important findings from the extensive empirical social science research literature on police interrogation and confessions. I then review existing law and policy on interrogation and confessions, and then offer empirically based policy and legal recommendations. I will argue that the most important legal and policy reforms for achieving both the elicitation (by police) and admission into evidence (by trial courts) of voluntary and reliable confession evidence are: mandatory full electronic recording of all police interviews and interrogations; improved police training and practice on pre-interrogation investigative procedures; a shift from guilt-presumptive accusatory interrogation techniques that prioritizes eliciting confessions above all else to more professional investigative interviewing approaches that prioritize obtaining accurate information above all else; and pre-trial reliability hearings to prevent false and unreliable confession evidence from being admitted into evidence at trial and leading to wrongful convictions.

Keywords: criminal law, criminal procedure, false confession, police interrogation, law enforcement, wrongful conviction

Suggested Citation

Leo, Richard A., Police Interrogation and Suspect Confessions: Social Science, Law and Public Policy (March 1, 2017). in Erik Luna, ed. Academy for Justice: A Report on Scholarship and Criminal Justice Reform (2017, Forthcoming).; Univ. of San Francisco Law Research Paper No. 2017-06. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2937980

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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