Last week I testified in a trial in Indiana. This marked the 36th case in which I have testified as an expert witness on false confessions.
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.
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.
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.
Marty Tankleff, whose coerced false confession led to 17 years of incarceration, has been admitted to the bar in New York! He plans to represent people falsely accused of crimes. A tragic story with a wonderful turn.
I recommend Netflix new documentary series on Henry Lee Lucas, who gave hundreds of false confessions.
Reid and Associates is suing Netflix over allegedly defamatory remarks in their drama about the Central Park Jogger case. Here’s a good account, featuring several quotes from myself and other false confessions experts. https://www.theguardian.com/film/2019/oct/15/when-they-see-us-ava-duvernay-netflix-lawsuit-reid
Last week I testified in the highly-publicized trial of Skylar Richardson, an Ohio teenager accused of killing her newborn baby. She was acquitted, an encouraging sign that juries are coming to understand false confessions. It was my 34th case testifying as a false confessions expert witness.
I am at work on what I hope will be a regular podcast about false confessions. Stay tuned!
Way back when, Donald Trump demanded the execution of the Central Park 5. Earlier this week, when asked about the case, Trump did not back down, noting that “they admitted their guilt.” The president is hardly a false confessions expert, but he should know better. Neither he nor anyone else should promote the dangerous and discredited idea that innocent people would never confess to a crime.