False confessions threaten justice system integrity
Many people in Florida believe that they would never confess to a crime they did not commit. However, the facts show that many people do, in fact, confess to crimes that they were not responsible for. In many cases, these false confessions have led to wrongful convictions and decades-long miscarriages of justice. While some may think that false confessions are a relic of years gone by and outmoded practices, scholars say that dubious confessions extracted from suspects continue to pose a barrier to meaningful justice.
Some researchers say that police and prosecutors continue, in many cases, to disregard evidence that certain types of interrogation practices are more likely to lead to false information than a useful confession. Evidence shows that a large number of people may confess to crimes they did not commit under a sufficient amount of pressure. It’s understandable that vulnerable individuals, such as children or people with intellectual disabilities, may give in to this type of pressure, but research indicates that the problem is far wider. Innocent people could spend years in jail while perpetrators are left free to harm others.
Many wrongful convictions have been unearthed through DNA evidence. In over one-quarter of those cases, the suspects had initially confessed. Researchers say that some authorities will only consider a confession false when it is backed up by ironclad DNA evidence, but that proof does not exist in many cases. Researchers recommend that all interrogations be videotaped and say that lengthy, drawn-out interrogations, especially where false evidence is presented by police, may be more harmful than beneficial to the interests of justice.
Unfortunately, people may still be pressured into making a false confession, resulting in a criminal conviction for something they did not do. A criminal defense attorney may help people challenge a wrongful conviction, including instances of police or prosecution misconduct.