Voluntary Beatings

A new biography of Thurgood Marshall describes his testimony at his confirmation hearing. When a senator asked how Miranda could apply in cases where defendants confessed voluntarily, Marshall replied, “I tried a case in Oklahoma where the man ‘voluntarily’ confessed after he was beaten up for six days.” Of course, these days confessions are rarely beaten out of people. False confessions instead result from psychological tactics. While the causes may have changed, the problem of false confessions remains severe.