Fixing the System: False Confessions

Fixing the System: False Confessions

False confessions informational page

Recommendations to help eliminate false confessions

Mandatory recording of interrogations from start to finish

All interrogations, from the time the suspect has been read Miranda rights, should be recorded. Recording interrogations is the best way to insure accurate results. Unfortunately, very few states currently record interrogations. There are roughly 18,000 municipalities in the United States. According to the Innocence Project, 500 jurisdictions currently record interrogations.

There are several benefits to recording interrogations. Recording helps to insure that suspects are treated properly by their interrogators as well as deterring officers from using illegal tactics in order to secure a confession. Recording protects the police as well by helping to eliminate false accusations of abuse.

Christopher Ochoa was proven innocent by DNA testing in 2002 after serving 12 years in Texas prisons for a murder he didn’t commit. Chris explains In the video below how proper recording of his interrogation could have prevented his false confession.

Permit expert testimony about false confessions

It is crucial that courts allow the defense to present expert testimony detailing false confessions when their client has recanted a confession. If the interrogations are recorded and the police have followed proper procedures, there should be no reason for the prosecution to attempt to block false confession experts or for a judge to refuse the testimony. The jury needs to be made aware that false confessions do occur. The jury should have the opportunity to weigh all information in order to determine if the confession is legitimate. Unfortunately, judges routinely deny defense requests for false confession expert testimony.

Resources

Police departments that currently record Interrogations (PDF)