Race and False Confessions

Earlier this month, three African-American men whose false confessions led to 24 years of incarceration were ordered released by a judge in New York. (I was involved in the case.) The connection between race and false confessions warrants more study by false confessions experts.

Reform

Looking forward to the Biden administration pursuing criminal justice reform, including addressing the problem of false confessions. While most false confessions occur at the state level, federal law enforcement also uses the interrogation tactics that contribute to false confessions.

Acquittal

Earlier this week, I testified in a homicide trial in South Carolina — the 37th case in which I testified as an expert on false confessions. The defendant was acquitted. Juries are becoming increasingly aware of the reality of false confessions.

Death Penalty

Earlier this week we saw the first federal execution in 17 years.  The risk of killing the innocent is a powerful reason to oppose capital punishment.  Quite a few people have been on death row who were later found innocent — including some who gave false confessions.

Guilty Pleas

In today’s Washington Post (5/20), columnist George Will discusses the fact that many innocent people plead guilty.  Too true.  All false confessions experts will tell you that plea bargaining contributes to false confessions.

Prison Safety

Covid-19 is spreading much faster in prisons than elsewhere.  This should be a major source of concern quite apart from the fact that many innocent people (quite a few of whom gave false confessions) are imprisoned.