Police interrogations: "I don't…" / "I would…" / "It's simple…"
In the comments to the previous post, many people were a bit confused by why an innocent man would falsely confess to a crime. Lots of advice and commentary appeared in the reader responses: "I don't…", "I would…", "It's simple…".
In my opinion all of these responses were utterly misguided…except for one guy who got it dead on right:
Don't talk to the police without a lawyer. Ever. Then it doesn't matter if they lie to you. Cases like this are more proof that if it's just you against the police, you will lose every time. After two days of interrogation in that kind of an environment, I doubt that he was processing anything well enough to defend his own interests. Nobody would.
Even aside from the general advice that one should never talk to the cops (a video well known to most of us here, but I was still happy that Doctor X presented another link), there's a specific bit in Dick Taylor's comment that deserves to be presented in a 70 point font made out of glowing red neon letters:
I doubt that he was processing anything well enough to defend his own interests
I have never been handcuffed, taken down to the police station, or put in a room with a one way mirror.
…but I was once, years ago, ruthlessly grilled by two cops on the sidewalk in a situation where I was not free to leave. I am a very strong willed individual who knew deep in my bones that I was right, they were wrong, and that I should not say anything to them. So, of course, I didn't say anything to them, and the whole thing resolved itself.
But the point I want to make is even a very strong willed individual who is mentally prepared for a confrontation with the cops and has rehearsed what he will (or rather, won't) say still experiences a level of psychological pressure that is hard to describe. This was in a neutral settings, in an encounter that lasted less than an hour, on an average day. I can not imagine the psychological pressure one would feel after 12 hours of interrogation, in a locked room far from home, while wearing handcuffs, after a family member had died.
Barracks lawyers asserting "I don't…", "I would…", "It's simple…", etc. do not, I suggest, have a feeling for what it feels like to actually be in the kinds of situations they are talking about.
I strongly recommend reading “Only the Guilty Would Confess to Crimes” : Understanding the Mystery of False Confessions by Douglas L. Keene and Rita R. Handrich.
It's about 10,000 words, so it will take 10 to 15 minutes…but it's 10 to 15 minutes well spent.
Last 5 posts by Clark
- Culture Wars Are Fought with Memetic Bullets - July 18th, 2014
- Texas v. Johnson ... v. Berg - May 19th, 2014
- A Riddle Wrapped In a Mystery Inside an Enigma - May 16th, 2014
- That Claim Won't Fly - May 15th, 2014
- When Your Enemy Is in the Process of Destroying Himself, Stay Out of His Way - April 22nd, 2014