Card Set Information
Psychology,Forensic Psychology,Questioning Suspects
What is a false confession?
“any confession or admission to a criminal act that the confessor did not commit” (Holmberg, 2012 p. 136)
What was the Central Park jogger case?
1989, white female jogger is attacked and raped in Central Park
Lost 3/4 of blood and suffered multiple other injuries
Survived but had no memory of the attack
2 days later, 5 African American and Hispanic boys aged 14-16 had confessed
Only had films of the confessions (not interviews) to go on and no forensic evidence linking them
Retracted their confessions and claimed they were under police duress but received the longest juvenile sentence possible
2002 the actual rapist came forward and forensics linked him
Upon being freed the 5 said they confessed because they thought it would mean they could go home, call someone or otherwise leave what was an unpleasant situation
How common are false confessions?
Estimated to be 20% of convictions
15/70 (Scheck et al, 2000)
12% for Icelandic prisoners (Sigurdsson & Gudjonsson, 1996)
These could occur to protect others, stop police coercion and force or to avoid detention
How have false confessions been studied?
P's asked to type a list of words and to not press the ALT key
The computer crashed after 60 seconds and P's were accused of pressing the key
All initially denied the allegation
A confession form was produced and p's were invited to sign it
Another confederate claimed to have heard the commotion and asked what had happened to the P
Brought back into the room, read collated details of what happened and asked to tell their side of the story
69% signed the confession
28% told the other researcher they pressed the ALT key
9% created the illusory facts created by the experimenter to fit the story
When there was said to be a witness a sizeable number confessed
What is a voluntary false confession?
The confession is volunteered by the suspect without any coercion from the investigator
Might be trying to shield the real culprit
Might want fame
Might have a psychotic mental illness and confuse fantasy with reality
What was the Lindbergh kidnapping?
: 20 month old Charles Lindbergh was kidnapped and killed
Found 2 months later
200 people confessed
What is a coerced or compliant false confession?
A false confession due to coercion and pressure from the police offered to appease the investigator with knowledge that it is false
Used to escape an unpleasant situation in the hopes of receiving some gain
Who were the Guildford four?
: Guildford pub bombed by the IRA
4 men falsely confessed under intense police coercion
All charges dropped by 1991
What was the Paul Ingram case?
American republican party chairman in Washington
Accused of raping his daughter, sexually abusing his son, murdering babies and satanic cult crimes
Interrogated for 5 months rigorously, hypnotised and given many details about the crimes with police psychologists telling him how offenders often repress the memories of crime
Eventually he 'recalled' his crimes despite no physical evidence
Richard Ofshe argued that he had been brainwashed and got him to confess to a phoney crime using the same techniques about making his kids commit incest
Despite this, he still served all 20 years
What confessor related factors are relevant to confessions?
Mental health status
Influence of narcotics
Ignorance of the law
Understanding of the situation
What interrogator related factors are relevant to confessions?
Fear and experience of violence
Coercion and trickery
Who were the West Memphis 3?
: 3 eight year old boys were killed and their naked bodies were found in the creek a day later
Post mortem examination mistook animal predation with castration
3 suspects (all under 18)
One interviewed for over a month
One with low IQ interviewed for only 12 hours (only 46 minutes recorded)
Gave inconsistent testimony and sentenced to 40 years for first and second degree murder
One other given death sentence after giving up media available info on crime
The other was given life
Later forensic evidence exonerated the three despite confessions (and 18 years in prison)