Is 5 5 Short For A 14 Year Old Boy False Confessions

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False Confessions

A confession is a detailed written or sometimes oral statement in which a person admits to having committed a crime. Confessions are very powerful evidence in criminal law when it comes to trials and reliable convictions. They are an undeniable admission of guilt. Police officers see the interrogation process as a means of obtaining a confession or additional evidence that will prove a person’s guilt (Ainsworth, 2000). Serious factors that cause false confessions are those that result from police interrogation methods that are designed to elicit confessions from the guilty but may elicit confessions from the innocent (Howitt, 2006). The police do not ask for all false confessions. The consequences of a false confession can be just as serious as those who confess truthfully. They are at high risk of being convicted even though they may later retract their confession, which is unlikely to be accepted. “From a psychological perspective, a false confession is any detailed admission of a crime that the confessor did not commit” (Kassin and Gudjosson, 2004). There are various reasons why people may confess to a crime they never committed.

Kassin (1997) classifies false confessions into three types, voluntary false confessions, coerced false confessions, and forced-internal false confessions: Voluntary false confessions are self-incriminating statements offered without external pressure. There are several reasons why a person might be prone to this. This may be done to protect a relative or friend, especially when dealing with juvenile offenders. Another reason is the pathological need for fame, acceptance, recognition or self-punishment, an example of which is the kidnapping of the famous aviator Charles Lindbergh’s baby, when more than 200 people confessed to the crime (Kassin, 1997).

In the Forced – Complaint of false confessions, suspects confess after intense interrogation pressure. This happens when a suspect confesses to avoid further questioning or to get what the police have offered in exchange for a confession. Confession in this case is only an act of compliance and the suspect knows that he is innocent, but believes that by confessing he will be left alone, etc. They are only aware of the short-term effects of confession and never consider that it will lead to persecution and eventual imprisonment. They often plead guilty because the police lead them to believe that they will be granted reduced sentences (Kassin, 1997). An example of this is when 5 teenage boys, aged between 14 and 17, after intensive interrogations that lasted between 14 and 30 hours, admitted that they were involved in a violent attack on a 28-year-old woman. The teenagers later said they simply told the officers what they wanted to hear so they could go home (Meissner & Russano, 2003).

One of the most interesting types of false confessions are Forced-internalized confessions. An innocent person confesses after being subjected to interrogation methods that cause great distress and confusion. The suspect ends up actually thinking they may have committed a crime. This is very dangerous because the suspect’s memory of his/her actions can change and the suspect can no longer identify the truth. This type of confession can happen mainly if the suspect is vulnerable, for example naive, young, lack of intelligence combined with false evidence leading him/her to believe that they actually committed the crime (Kassin, 1997). When suspects are faced with false evidence of their guilt, such as being told they failed a polygraph test or that their DNA was found at a crime scene, they begin to question their memory of what really happened and their involvement. into crime. (Meissner and Russano, 2003). The most famous case involving coerced internalized false confessions is that involving Paul Ingram, a sheriff’s deputy accused of satanic ritual abuse of his daughter (Meissner and Russano, 2003). Ingram initially denied the allegations, but after 5 months of repeated questioning, hypnosis and encouragement to recall the abuse, he succumbed and confessed. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison, without any physical evidence to confirm the confession. Ingram’s memory vulnerability stems from constant repetition by investigators and psychologists “that it would be natural for him to repress memories of his crimes and that his memory could be recovered by praying to God for answers.” (He was a deeply religious man) (Meissner and Russano, 2003).

In 1974, members of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) planted bombs in two pubs in Guildford, England. Five people died and 57 were injured. A month later, a bomb exploded at The King’s Arms in Woolrich, south London, killing 2 and injuring 27. The blasts sparked public outrage and around 150 detectives went to work on the case. The four suspects who were taken into custody confessed to the crimes. They were convicted and imprisoned. Gudjonnson, joined by others, investigated the case and eventually made it clear that the four had confessed to crimes they did not commit. After 15 years in prison, they were freed and released. The case above serves as a prime example of investigator bias. The police must have been outraged by these senseless bombings. Their anger may have made them “believe” that they are really guilty or innocent. Gudjonnson elaborated on this obscure dilemma: “Interrogation bias can cause police officers to be particularly alert and receptive to information that is consistent with their prior assumptions and beliefs, while ignoring, minimizing, or distorting information that contradicts their assumptions. Information that does not support interview hypotheses can be misinterpreted as lying, misunderstanding, avoidance or defensiveness” According to Gusjonsson, the stronger the interviewer’s prior assumptions and beliefs, the greater the interviewer’s bias.

Police officers who manage to elicit a confession are rewarded with great respect. Their methods of interviewing suspects are seen as a way of demonstrating their ‘professional prowess’ (Ainsworth, 2000). Police officers are highly motivated to solve crimes and sometimes do whatever they can to get a confession from their suspects. Stress, pressure, and threat apply to interrogation because they increase fear, anxiety, guilt, or anger. This, according to the police, will test their ‘criminal knowledge’ (Ainsworth, 2000). Gudjonsoon is critical of police deception techniques. He believes that “police fraud and deception deprive suspects of the opportunity to make informed and rational decisions about their right not to incriminate themselves.”

Gudjosson and Clark proposed the concept of ‘examination suggestibility’ to explain how individuals respond differently to police questioning. ‘Interrogative suggestibility’ according to Gudjosson is the way in which people in a closed social space receive messages during questioning and how this affects their behavior and response (Conti, 1999). Gudjosson described five elements that he saw as part of ‘interrogative suggestibility’: closed interaction between suspect and interrogator, interrogation procedure with two or more participants, suggestive stimulus (hints, ideas), acceptance of the suggested stimulus and behavioral response to suggestions (accepted or not). In such a situation, the examiner can manipulate trust, uncertainty, and expectation in order to change the person’s sensitivity to suggestions (Conti, 1999).

A person’s characteristics affect how this method works. People with low intelligence, poor memory, low self-confidence, anxiety are more prone to suggestion and are more prone to make false statements and confess to crimes they did not commit. Introverts are more easily conditioned than extroverts, and since many criminals are extroverts and designed to be the typical criminal, this can have a negative effect on innocent introverts. (Conti, 1999) Stress is another important factor that examiners use to obtain confessions. A certain amount of stress applied to a normal person might find out the truth about him/her, but if applied to someone who is mentally weak, it may result in a false confession (Conti, 1999).

To reduce the incidence of false confessions, police investigators should receive special training in proper interviewing skills. During the training, special attention should be paid to the treatment of persons with special needs, such as the mentally disabled and minors during interrogation. Effective investigator communication practices will lead to accuracy and accountability in the criminal justice system and hopefully reduce wrongful convictions (Cassell, 1998). The judicial system should be more aware of inadequate approaches to seeking confessions from suspects in custody. Interrogations should be aimed at uncovering the truth, not at trying to get a confession. When questioning a potential suspect, the investigator should assume a disinterested role, not an adversarial one (Conti, 1999). The length of the interview is also harmful and can be a reason for false confessions. Long examinations cause anxiety and stress. Limiting the amount of time that interrogations can take, the time they are held, for example not when the suspect is supposed to be asleep, will reduce the phenomenon of false confessions (Conti, 1999). In order to eliminate foregone conclusions and to guarantee the accuracy and authenticity of confessions, it is vital that the statements made are supported by evidence. With DNA tests exonerating dozens of people wrongly accused and convicted of crimes, claims of false confessions have been vindicated.

Another idea is to video or audio record all trials. A mandatory video recording requirement would serve the dual purpose of protecting police agencies from allegations of misconduct and protecting the rights of suspects (Moushey and Perry, 2006). Meissner and Russano outlined ‘best practice’ recommendations for questioning suspects. The first is Transparency of the Interrogation Process, which advocates videotaping interrogations to reduce the practice of investigators changing the use of coercive techniques to pre-interrogation techniques, and for the video angle to show both the investigator and the interrogator. the suspect to reduce the bias of third parties when deciding on the voluntariness of the confession. Another recommendation is Identification of suspected vulnerabilities. Certain individuals are more susceptible than others, especially if they are children/minors or mentally challenged. In these cases, help should be provided to these people. During the interrogation, the mental and physical condition of the suspects should be taken into account. Factors such as recent drug or alcohol use, lack of sleep, or pain must also be considered. In this case, the test should be stopped until the person is in a ‘normal’ state. Meissner and Russan’s third recommendation is to avoid techniques that increase the likelihood of false confessions. Certain factors are known to influence individuals to falsely confess, so examiners are advised not to use negative influence such as suggesting theories of memory failure and presenting false evidence. According to Meissner and Rusan, interrogators should also try not to drag out interrogations and not offer leniency or a plea deal in exchange for a confession. A final recommendation by Meissner and Russan is the Reliability Analysis of Posttest Confessions proposed by Leo and Oshe (1998). It is recommended that all facts be evaluated before the trial and after the trial to verify that all facts are consistent.

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