Prosecutors often emphasize to the jury that the defendant waived his Miranda rights and agreed to talk. But what follows? People who give false confessions are, by definition, innocent. And most innocent people feel they have no reason not to talk.
After a homicide trial in New York last week, I have now testified as a false confessions expert in 16 states.
According to the Prison Policy Initiative, 99% of the growth in jail population over the last 15 years results from the detention of innocent people. Needless to say, false confessions contribute mightily to this problem.
Of the Innocence Project’s 341 DNA exonerations, more than 25% gave full false confessions or incriminating statements.
A voluntary false confession figures prominently in my new book — http://www.amazon.com/The-Duke-Wellington-Kidnapped-Incredible/dp/1619025914
Last week I testified as a false confessions expert in both the District of Columbia and Tucson, Arizona. (In DC, the defendant was acquitted.)
Attorneys often ask me about the admissibility of expert testimony on false confessions. The short answer is that it depends on the judge and jurisdiction, but such testimony is increasingly deemed admissible. I personally have been qualified as a false confessions expert in a dozen states.