The Innocence Project continues to report that, of its several hundred cases of DNA exonerations, roughly one fourth involved false confessions. Can anyone still doubt the prevalence of false confessions?
Kudos to Attorney General Merrick Garland for putting on hold all death sentences in the federal system. Many people on death row, including some who gave false confessions, were later exonerated.
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.
New York is considering a law that would ban interrogation deception by law enforcement. This would be a huge step forward. As any false confessions expert can attest, lying to suspects significantly contributes to false confessions.
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.
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.
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.