Why would an innocent person confess to a murder or rape that they didn’t commit.Ask Eddie Lowery. Mr Lowery was convicted of rape with no physical evidence that he committed the rape. However , one piece of evidence was present , his confession. Mr Lowery was convicted by a jury , but later science set him free. After the conviction DNA evidence proved another person committed the crime.
Brandon Garrett of the University of Virginia School of Law has recently published a study of 40 other cases where a person gave a false confession that was later cleared of the crime by DNA evidence.One area of Mr.Garrett ‘s paper focused on police contamination of information . The accused is fed evidence by the police on details of the crime to make the confession have more credibility. Also , more than half of those that falsely confessed were mentally disabled.
What can be done to stop false confessions ?
Jim Trainum, a former policeman who now advises police departments on training officers to avoid false confessions, explained that few of them intend to contaminate an interrogation or convict the innocent.
“You become so fixated on ‘This is the right person, this is the guilty person’ that you tend to ignore everything else,” he said. The problem with false confessions, he said, is “the wrong person is still out there, and he’s able to reoffend.”
Mr. Trainum has become an advocate of videotaping entire interrogations. Requirements for recording confessions vary widely across the country. Ten states require videotaping of at least some interrogations, like those in crimes that carry the death penalty, and seven state supreme courts have required or strongly encouraged recording.
Some police detectives are trained in the Reid method of police interrogation. This technique can lead to false or involuntary confessions.
Here’s my suggestion. Do not speak to a police officer without your lawyer present even if you are not charged with a crime yet.