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How false confessions happen

Recent advancements in DNA evidence have helped hundreds of falsely accused inmates take back their freedom. Estimates reveal that, collectively, these individuals lost almost 1,500 years of their lives in 2017 alone. Why is it that so many innocent people go to prison?  

Many of these problems stem from coerced confessions. Interrogation techniques often push the limits of what is fair and ethical. While numerous cases of false imprisonment continue to come to light, hopefully, these methods will undergo some changes.

The Reid Technique

The Reid Technique, named after interrogation specialist John Reid, is a method many law enforcement organizations still use today. It involves several stages likely to elicit a confession.

The first step is informing the suspect that there is evidence supporting his or her guilt. Beyond this, the interrogator may attempt to ease the suspect’s mind by offering compassion to explain the alleged crime. Other phases of this process involve leading questions and repetitions of implied guilt.

Many states continue to use this process because of its effectiveness. However, more and more emerging research highlights the number of false confessions that occur as a result.

Threats or promises

While the Reid Technique is a legitimate method, it is illegal for an officer to coerce a confession through threats or promises. For instance, offering a guarantee of leniency in exchange for a confession would be a false promise. The threat of physical harm if you do not cooperate is another example.

The most common targets for these types of methods are younger individuals or those with intellectual disabilities. Law enforcement officers may take advantage of suspects who may not fully understand their rights.

In situations like these, it is important to remember the most basic of your Miranda rights: the right to remain silent. Whether you are innocent or guilty, you should be able to share your side of the story on your own terms.

If you have been arrested, exercise your right to remain silent. Let an experienced criminal defense attorney speak for you.

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