Forced confessions, do they happen?

This is an article in the NY Times about a forced or coerced confession. Many people question whether these things actually happen. They often use the arguments such as "I would never confess to something I didn't do" as evidence that there are never, or rarely ever, wrongful confessions. But unfortunately, defy logic as they may, forced confessions happen all the time. People do this for many reasons. I've spoken to a few people who have confessed and then later been proven innocent. They all typically have something in common - they want out and they're naive. The police, who are allowed to lie during an interrogation, often say things like "if you confess, you can leave tonight" - this takes advantage of someone who may not grasp the entire consequence of being found guilty of a crime. The police tend to play the crime down in conjunction with telling people to confess so that they can "go home." When put together, it sounds like you're better off simply saying you did it so you can go home and move on with your life. Guess, what? That assault charge is turned into a murder charge and suddenly you're facing life and you're never going home for something you never even did.

It also happens to people facing numerous charges and may be guilty of one, but not the other. Statements like "we'll only charge you with X if you admit to Y" forced people to admit even if they didn't do something (and of course, they're charged with X, Y, Z and all the other letters).

This 'This American Life episode' interviews someone who confessed to something she didn't do and goes into a more detailed personal experience of why and how it happens.

Were you wrongly arrested based on a confession and later all charges were dismissed against you? Know someone who was? Contact us immediately.

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