In brief: Why the innocent confess

In brief

Why the innocent confess

About 20% of proven wrongful criminal convictions result from false confessions. Research based on psychological experiments and case records and summarized in a 2005 article in the journal American Psychologist suggests some reasons for this shocking situation.

Police investigators sometimes say they are not worried about false confessions because they do not interrogate innocent people. What they mean is that before starting an interrogation, they have already been persuaded — by preliminary interviews, witnesses, criminal profiling, or simply a hunch — that the suspect is guilty and lying. They judge the success of the interrogation by their ability to extract a confession.

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