PSYC39H3 Chapter Notes - Chapter 3: Confabulation, Mock Trial, Soft Sell

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20 Apr 2012

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PSYC39 Chapter 3
- A process by whereby the police interview a suspect for the purpose of
gathering evidence and obtaining a confession
- confession evidence is a prosecutor’s most potent weapon
- confession alone isn’t sufficient for conviction in US/Canada
- interrogations w/ the intent of extracting a confession is seen as inherently
coercive > the sys gives officers certain powers over you, the suspect
- mid 20th whipping used to obtain a confession > Brown v Mississippi
- the more overt acts of physical coercion have become less freq and replaced
w/ more subtle psychologically based interrogation techniques
o lying about evidence/promising lenient treatment/threats to family
- seen as a necessary evil in order to extract confession from reluctant
suspects [police POV]
- England police are taught interrogation tech far less coercive than NA
The Reid Model of Interrogation
- A nine step model of interrogation used freq in NA to extract confessions
from suspects
o John E Reid. polygrapher ‘Criminal Interrogation and Confessions
- general level
o 1. gather evidence and interview w/ witnesses and victims
o 2. conduct nonaccusatorial interview w/ suspect to assess any
evidence or deception
o 3. accusatorial interrogation of the suspect [if perceived to be guilty]
nine steps procedure implemented in this last part
- 9 step procedure in stage 3 > lec 3 slides 9-
- model is based on the idea that suspects do not confess because they fear the
potential consequences that await them
- fear of consequences < anxiety associated with remaining deceptive
- goal of this model is to reverse this making the consequences of confessing
more desirable than the anxiety related to deception
- min/max tech > can manipulate the two conflicting forces
- minimization tech: Soft sell tactics used by police interrogators that are
designed to lull the suspect into a false sense of security
o sympathy, excuses, justification
- maximization texh: scare tactics used by police that are designed to
intimidate a suspect believed to be guilty
o exaggerating seriousness, making false claims of evidence
Potential problems w/ the Reid Model
- deception detection: detecting when someone is being deceptive
o key since the decision to commence a full interrogation relies on the
officers accurate assessment of whether the suspect is being deceptive
o no one is accurate in detecting deception so most of the time
interrogations are launched under the incorrect assumption of guilt
o Miranda rights/Charter of Rights protect suspects for this
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issue: ppl may not understand rights/tricked into waiving
- investigator bias: bias that can result when police officers enter an
interrogation setting already believing that the suspect is guilty
o if already believe one thing > seek out/interpret info to confirm
o Mock trial study, guilt condition > slide 14
o SUM > investigative biases led to coercive and pressure filed
interrogation that in turn caused the suspects to appear more
defensive/guilty even when they were not guilty
Interrogation Practices in Court
- confession admissibility > 1. made voluntarily 2. competent when given
o these terms are debated
o confessions obtained through overt coercion are not admissible
brute force, deprivation, threats of harm, promises of leniency,
notifying of rights
o R v Oickle > arson > admissible then inadmissible then admissible
Box 3.1 R v Hoilett >sexual assault
Recent Changes to Interrogation Procedures
- most changes in England > restrict many of tech in Reid Model
- PEACE > England
- video-recording interrogation is a common practice now [1/3 do it, 97% like]
o angle/suspect only cautious , less false accusations/confessions
False Confessions
- large % of wrongfully convicted crime included a false confession [21%]
- retracted confessions: a confession that the confessor later declares to be
- disputed confession: a confession that is later disputed at trial [leg tech]
- impossible to determine whether a confession is false [freq is unknown]
Voluntary false confession
- a false confession that is provided w/o any elicitation form the police
o reasons > desire for notoriety, unable to distinguish fact/fiction, make
up for pathological feelings of guilt, protect someone else
o Charles Lindbergh’ s son > first to fly solo across Atlantic
200 people falsely confessed to the crime
Coerced-compliant false confessions
- a confession that results form a desire to escape a coercive interrogation
environment of gain a benefit promised by the police [most common]
- reasons > escape interrogation, gain benefit, avoid threatened punishment
- Gerry Conlon > confessed to bombing pubs due to coercion
- usually obtained through coercion
- aware they are not responsible for the crime
- Box 3.2 > R v M.J.S. > shaken baby
Coerced-internalized False Confessions
- a confession hat results form suggestive interrogation techniques whereby
the confessor actually comes to believe he committed the crime
- usually through minimization
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