False Confessions: they happen. False confessions have figured in 24 percent of the approximately 289 convictions reversed by DNA evidence. The question is why?
If you have never been interrogated, tortured, locked up, or verbally threatened, you may find it hard to believe that anyone would confess to something they have not done. As a matter of fact, most jurors find it hard to believe that people make false confessions. The average person believes that innocent people do not make false confessions. People will make false confessions. I know this for a fact to be the case.
So what in the name of God is the motivation for making a false confession? Do they want to stop the abuse? Do they want to be seen more favorable by interrogator? Do they think that somehow confessing will lead to their freedom? Do they just want the interrogation to end? The answer to all of these is yes.
Studies by psychologists on confessions that have been proven false, show that often these “confessions” are done by the following: children, mentally ill, mentally retarded, and suspects who are drunk or high. What do these all have in common? They are susceptible to suggestion, eager to please authority figures, disconnected from reality or unable to defer gratification. Many of these types think that they will be jailed as long as they keep up their denials and the will be released if they go along with interrogators.
This does not mean that regular adults of normal intelligence do not confess falsely after being manipulated. The biggest manipulator I know, when it comes to getting confessions, is the polygraph exam (or examiner). I say manipulation, because the polygraph exam is deceptive by nature. The examiner gets you to relax, then later applies the psychological thumb screws. A polygraph examination is an interrogation.
Polygraph examinations are known to cause false confessions. Despite the fact that the inaccuracy of the poly graph is well documented, police often rely heavily on the “lie detector.” What most civilians do not know, is that it is either being used as a short-cut on an investigation, or it is used because the case has stalled or there is a lack of evidence to point to a particular suspect. If an innocent suspect “fails” the polygraph exam, police will use the results to persuade him or her that they must be guilty. (see Part 2 for how this is usually done)
First of all, there is no such thing as “failing” a polygraph examination. This is another lie told by examiners or law enforcement in their ploy to get a “confession.” Most examiners will avoid using this term because it is not “professional” they will say things like “the subject showed signs of deception” and the like. Once again, there is no pass or fail to a polygraph examination. However, if they get you to confess to something, you have failed yourself in a big way.
What most people who are innocent do not understand, is that a polygraph exam cannot and will never prove you are telling the truth. You cannot exonerate yourself by taking a polygraph exam. Remember that in reality, there is no passing or failing a polygraph exam. People get duped into “proving their innocence” with a lie detector test. This technique is nothing more than investigators putting emotional pressure on the person from whom they want to get a confession. Note that “passing” a polygraph exam will never eliminate you as a suspect.
Remember – whatever you do – Stay Safe!