The
police have many ways to get a suspect to confess.  Most people agree that physical abuse is
illegal; however, the use of psychological intimidation is sometimes
unclear.  Police are permitted to lie and
use false evidence while interrogating a suspect, but is it the right thing to
do?  Most investigators feel that the
best way to get a conviction is to get the suspect to confess.   A confession is the most powerful piece of
evidence because the jury hears the crime from the suspect’s own mouth.  Confession becomes the main goal of most
investigators.

There
are a number of psychological ways interrogators try to get a confession.  One is the “good cop/bad cop” strategy (Costanzo
& Krauss, 2015, p. 32).  The “good
cop” interrogator is sympathetic, shows understanding, and is not intimidating.  The “bad cop” is aggressive and makes accusations
and negative comments toward the suspect. The “bad cop” may even threaten the
suspect.  The “good cop” becomes the
friend and defends the suspect from the “bad cop.”   The
suspect comes to trust the “good cop” and provides information about the
crime.  This could lead the suspect to
confess, hoping the “good cop” will help, while fearing threats from the “bad
cop.” 

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Another
method often used by investigators is the Reid Technique, which involve nine
steps.  These “nine steps of
interrogation” are used when the investigator is reasonably certain of a
suspect’s involvement in the crime under investigation (Costanzo & Krauss,
2015, p. 32). The nine steps are step-by-step instructions, but they fall under
the following four influence strategies: loss of control; social isolation; certainty
of guilt; and exculpatory scenarios. Critics of the Reid Technique claim it too easily produces
false confessions.  For example, the Reid method presumes that
the suspect is guilty before any interrogation begins.  Therefore, the interactions between an
innocent suspect and interrogator may only confirm to the interrogator that the
suspect is guilty (Moore & Fitzsimmons, 2011, p. 513).

The
Reid Technique has survived examination in the United States for over fifty
years and is an effective tool for law enforcement and investigators (Reid
& Associates).  The approach is
designed to get confessions from the guilty and protect the innocent.  However, the company pointed out that this
will only happen if the technique is applied properly.  They contend that false confessions occur
when interrogators display improper behavior that is outside the limits of the
Reid Technique.  This can include
threatening certain consequences, promising leniency if the suspect confesses,
denying the suspect his rights, or conducting an excessively long
interrogation.

Approximately 25 percent of
all wrongful convictions involve a false confession.  However, even if a confession is proven
false, a jury tends to vote guilty.  This
is called the “fundamental attribution error.” This means that a jury has a
hard time believing that an innocent person would confess to a crime, believing
that a confession cannot be forced out of an innocent person (Costanzo &
Krauss, 2015, pp. 29-30). 

An interrogator must walk a
thin line when interrogating a suspect. 
Deceptive interrogations are allowed, but there are limits.  Needless to say, any type of physical force
is strictly prohibited.  The suspect must
be fully aware of his/her rights.  For
instance, interrogators are not allowed to tell a suspect that incriminating
statements will not be used against him. 
Also, interrogations cannot go on for hours without a break.  Moreover, if the suspect asks for a lawyer,
then the interrogation must stop. 

In this day, most interrogations
are recorded.  This lets judges and
juries decide if the interrogation was fair or if a line was crossed.  Deception should be allowed and is necessary
to get some confessions, but it should only be used if the suspect voluntarily
waives his rights to an attorney and his/her right to remain silent.

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