Would you confess to a crime you did not commit?
In normal circumstances, it is tough to understand a time when someone would confess to a crime they did not commit. Yet the Innocence Project lists false confessions as factors in more than half of cases where an individual is wrongfully convicted because of DNA evidence.
Both the environment and the person doing the questioning can directly affect the suspect. When under heavy emotional, physical or mental stress, a person may say they did something they did not do.
Factors that contribute to false confessions
In some situations, the suspect has compromised reasoning ability. This could be because they are hungry, under the influence of drugs or alcohol or exhausted. They may also have limited education or mental limitations or be too young to understand their rights.
There are times when law enforcement officials use devious interrogation techniques, which can lead to a false confession. They may induce fear in the suspect with force or the threat of force.
What will solve this problem?
One way that researchers believe they can reduce false confessions is through the recording of interrogations. States would put laws into place that require recording of questioning for the most serious cases.
Proponents say that this will not only benefit the suspect but will also protect law enforcement. Officers can avoid disputes and concentrate on interviewing the subject rather than taking notes. When officers record interrogations, public confidence in law enforcement has also increased. California is currently one state that records a good portion of questioning and interrogations.