December 31, 2019

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False Confessions

Gordon Graham
Category: Law Enforcement

Gordon Graham here with Today’s Tip from Lexipol. 

Three types of false confessions.

No law enforcement professional wants a guilty person to escape justice.  

On the other hand, no law enforcement professional wants a person convicted of a crime that they did not commit. 

Today, let’s talk about three types of false confessions.  

Sometimes a person walks in off the street and voluntarily confesses to a crime they did not commit. By asking questions designed to see how much the suspect knows about the crime or crime scene, law enforcement may weed out persons who are mentally ill or seeking notoriety. For example, did you know that more than 200 people confessed to the Lindbergh kidnapping 

Sometimes an innocent suspect may confess in order to end a relentless interrogation. Once the pressure is off, he or she may recant. This person knows they didn’t commit the crime. They just want out of the stressful situation. Inappropriate law enforcement interrogation tactics may lead to a coerced confession. 

In the third type of false confession, the suspect is interrogated and actually comes to believe in their own guilt. These suspects may be very young or mentally or intellectually impaired. They may be sleep-deprived and vulnerable. We must avoid coercing a suspect to confess involuntarily. 

Videotaping everyone involved in these interrogations, not just the suspect, is one way to help protect the innocent.  

It is also a good way to document the clean confession of the guilty.  

And that’s Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Gordon Graham signing off. 

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