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False Confessions

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After studying and observing the process involved with false confession, the researchers found that it is hard to accept the false confession as a true evidence. This is because people admit to the crime for some other reasons. In some criminal cases, the best part of their life is spent in the jail which thereafter makes his life harder. This even lead to the survival or escape of the original suspect. In this article the causes and consequences of false confessions is reviewed. It also discusses methods to reduce the number of false confessions which helps to enhance the accuracy of the evidence that is presented before the trial court. False confessions sometimes raise questions and confusions in the mind of social scientist, mental health professionals, policy makers and even to the public. In other words, it can be said that they are the most misunderstood causes of error in the American legal system (Leo, 2009).


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Researchers found that there is no single cause or single logic behind false confession. This happens to the police from multi-step process such as influence, persuasion, etc. which involves psychological coercion. The truth comes to the light only when the DNA evidence is published. The Central Park Jogger case in New York is an example of false confession where the DNA evidence finally declared the innocence of multiple defendants who have been wrongfully prosecuted (Leo, 2009).

The article reviews and analyze research on the causes of false confession, psychological logic, various types of false confessions and introducing false confession evidence before the court. It can be said that presenting wrong or false information is a drawback of this process. Social science research has shown four methods to prove that a confession is false such as admitting to a crime that did not happen, when it is physically impossible to commit the crime, when the true perpetrator is identified, and when scientific evidence such as DNA proves that the confessor is innocent. Several scholars have noted and documented that the reason that an innocent falsely confess to the police because he has been physically or mentally tortured. The three sequential errors include misclassification, coercion and contamination error (Leo, 2009).


As the article has shown how innocent people admit to serious crime due to false confession, the consequence of these are so bad. Empirical researchers have suggested methods to minimize the number of false confessions elicited by the police and by the individual itself. Mandatory electronic records of investigation and evidences should be kept in all cases especially serious crimes. Improving police training on false confession, putting time limits on interrogations, prohibiting certain interrogation techniques are some of the measures that can be adopted. This can save and protect the life of many innocent individuals and they could live a better and happy life. All the technologies and evidences should be used to safeguard the innocent rather than punishing him for what he has not done.


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