Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Problems with Confessions

[RESEARCH] If a defendant confessed to a crime, that's solid evidence, right? Not always -- but it can be hard to explain the problems to the judge and jury. At last week's AALS meeting in DC, Prof. Deborah Davis (Univ. of Nevada, Reno, Psychology Dept.) presented The Road to Perdition: Influence Tactics in Police Interrogations. Using social science research and examples of real cases where people who confessed were shown to be innocent, she explained common interrogation techniques and how they create psychological pressure to confess -- perhaps falsely or inaccurately.

Prof. Davis suggests that an expert witness can help challenge a confession. The expert witness can:

  • Provide evidence that false confessions do occur
  • Explain both interrogative and non-interrogative influences promoting false confession
  • Explain the nature and impact of coercive interrogation
  • Evaluate suspect vulnerabilities that enhance susceptibility to coercive practices
  • Assist with or provide post admission narrative analysis
    to demonstrate likelihood of false confession

Davis's PowerPoint is packed with information. She also makes available a book chapter:
Davis, D. & O'Donohue, W. T. (2004). The road to perdition: Extreme influence tactics in the interrogation room. In W. T. O’Donohue, E. Levensky (Eds.) Handbook of Forensic Psychology (897-996). New York, Elsevier, Academic Press.
If you're interested in this type of research, take a look at her website, which includes papers on eyewitness testimony, consent in sexual offense cases, and other evidence-related research.

Categories: , , , , , , ,

No comments: