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Chapter 2

Chapter 2

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Psychology 2990A/B
Doug Hazlewood

Psych 2990A Chapter 2: The Psychology of Police Investigations • tasks such as collection and evaluation of investigative information is an example of where psychology is relevant Police Interrogations • in some countries, people may be convicted solely on their confession, but in Canada and US, a confession usually has to be backed up by some other form of evidence • police interrogation: a process whereby the police interview a suspect for the purpose of fathering evidence and obtaining a confession • a very coercive environment ; and has been historically • police officers often view these techniques as a necessary evil in order to obtain confessions from guilty persons. • this could increase false confessions The Reid Model of Interrogation • Reid Model: a nine-step model of interrogation used frequently in North America to extract confessions from suspects • consists of a three-part process • first stage is to gather evidence related to the crime and to interview witnesses and victims • second stage is to conduct a nonaccusatorial interview of the suspect to assess any evidence of deception • third stage is to conduct an accusatorial interrogation of the suspect (if he or she is perceived to be guilty) in which a nine-step procedure is implemented, with the primary objective being to secure a confession (p. 41) • the goal of the Reid Model is to make the consequences of confessing more desirable than the anxiety related to deception • techniques used in the Reid Model of interrogation can be broken down into two general categories: • minimization techniques: soft sell tactics used by police interrogators that are designed to lull the suspect into a false sense of security • maximization techniques: scare tactics used by police interrogators that are designed to intimidate a suspect believed to be guilty Potential Problems with the Reid Model of Interrogation • Deception detection: detecting when someone is being deceptive (lying) • the decision to commence a full-blown police interrogation relies on an accurate assessment of whether the suspect is being deceptive or when he or she claims to be innocent • there are procedural safeguards in place to protect an individual during the transition into the interrogation phase of the Reid Model • there are Miranda rights - include a right to silence and a right to counsel, and it is only when suspects knowingly and voluntarily waive these rights that their statements can be used as evidence against them • research has demonstrated that Miranda-type rights may not provide the protection that they are assumed to provide • one significant problem is that many individuals do not understand the right that are read to them • police in some jurisdictions have been found to minimize the importance of the Miranda process and to use rapport-building techniques in an attempt to increase compliance • Investigator Bias • investigator bias: bias that can result when police officers enter an interrogation setting already believing that the suspect is guilty • problem is that when people form a belief about something before they enter a situation, they often unknowingly seek out and interpret information in that situation in a way that verifies their initial belief • interrogators with guilty expectations use a higher frequency of interrogation techniques compared with interrogators with innocent expectations • suspects had fairly accurate perceptions of interrogator behaviour (ie. innocent suspects believed their interrogators were exerting more pressure) Interrogation Practices and the Courts • the decisions to admit confession evidence into court rests on the trial judge • key issues a judge must consider is whether the confession was voluntary and whether the defendant was competent when they provided the confession Recent Changes to Interrogation Procedures • changes are most obvious in England, where courts have restricted the use of many techniques found in the Reid Model of interrogation • some police agencies in England use the PEACE model to guide their interrogations • acronym for planning and preparation, engage and explain, account, closure, and evaluation • provides an inquisitorial framework rather than an accusatorial framework • interview method is called conversation management, which encourages information gathering more than securing a confession • have abandoned the term ʻinterrogationʼ and have adopted the term ʻinvestigative interviewingʼ • video-recording techniques are becoming more widely used • research suggests that we must be careful in the use of video cameras, because even the slightest angle can have a significant impact on the jurorʼs verdicts False Confessions • false confession: a confession that is either intentionally fabricated or is not based on actual knowledge of the facts that form its content • when false confessions occur, they should be taken seriously, especially considering the weight that juries put on confessions when determining the guilt or innocence of a defendant • two terms that are often confused with false confessions: • retracted confession: a confession that the confessor later declares to be false • disputed confession: a confession that is later disputed at trial • may arise due to legal technicalities or because the suspect disputes the confession was ever made The Frequency of False Confessions • no one knows how frequently false confessions are made • it is almost impossible to determine whether a confession is false • the fact that a confession is coerced does not mean it is necessarily false • incidence of self-reported confessions has been found to be 0.6%-12% Different Types of False Confessions (Kassin and Wrightsman) • Voluntary False Confessions: a false confession that is provided without any elicitation from the police • such confessions may arise out of (1) a morbid desire for notoriety, (2) the person being unable to distinguish fact from fantasy, (3) the need to make up for pathological feelings of guilt by receiving punishment, or (4) a desire to protect somebody else from harm • Coerced-compliant false confession: a confession that results from a desire to escape a coercive interrogation environment or gain a benefit promised by the police • suspect admits to a crime even though they are fully aware they did not commit it • such confessions may be given to (1) escape further interrogation, (2) gain a promised benefit, (3) avoid a threatened punishment • some of the coercive tactics used were making up false evidence and threatening to harm members of oneʼs family • Coerced-Internalized False Confessions: a confession that results from suggestive interrogation techniques, whereby the confessor actually comes to believe he or she committed the crime • there are several vulnerability factors associated with this type of false confession, including (1) a history of substance abuse or some interference with brain function, (2) the inability of people to detect discrepancies between what they observed and what has been erroneously suggested to them, and (3) facto
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