The Reid Technique and False Confessions

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

New Yorker contributor Douglas Starr examines the Reid Technique of interrogation and whether it can prompt innocent people to confess to crimes they didn’t commit. Police forces, the military, the F.B.I., the C.I.A., the Secret Service have been trained in the method, but a growing number of scientists and legal scholars have raised concerns about Reid-style interrogation leading to false confessions. His article “The Interview” appears in the December 9 issue of The New Yorker.


Douglas Starr
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Comments [9]

I'm not expressing a hunch. I'm expressing a belief; that it is false to claim as the guest claims that people are often giving false confessions. That's not a hunch-it's a conviction based on my being a human living in a world of other humans and being observant over years of life experiences; that it does not make sense to me that this often happens. It is gullable to buy into the belief which people with an ax to grind have submitted as evidence; that people were innocent yet confessed out of "nervousness" or pressure. There is no evidence the people named were falsely convicted -not even in the central park case. Simply their exonerations based on technicalities or political pressure and their statements.[though I believe in the Skakel case, that he WAS falsely convicted. And he never confessed]. The media is blatantly lying to us telling us the defendants confessed when in fact they named each other. That is not a confession.Yet the media lies and says they confessed under pressure.
The only hunch I have here is that you and other activists resent that a police interrogator would trick someone into admitting their guilt when had they been savvy they could have denied or remained silent. How dare they trick someone-that is what my hunch tells me is really going on here-people resent the power and ability of the police to trick or lure the suspects into admitting his/her guilt. Perhaps sub consciously you side with criminals[Darwinian might makes right ,let the strong survive and too bad for the defenseless week victim, your solidarity is with the criminal or you just can't stand the police] I call it good police work; provided there is no ill treatment of the suspect.

Dec. 11 2013 05:33 PM
tom LI

There's been a lot of talk lately about US excellence. This subject is but one more reason why we as a Nation no longer care about such things...

If we were an excellent nation we would have a system that works really hard to keep the innocent, the falsely accused, the swept-up in improper procedures out of not only jail, but a court altogether!

The US is always behind the curve in the pursuit of actual domestic human rights initiatives and innovative approaches to not only this - but a whole host of social and legal issues. Since 9-11 its only gotten worse, and will continue unless the Public wake-ups and demands better treatment, and behaviors from all PD's, all civil servants and elected officials!

instead nearly everyone is wrapped up in staring down at their hand-held devices, playing some silly game, or tweet'n their inane lives!

Dec. 11 2013 04:21 PM
tom LI

rosellen - have you examined the evidence? the police reports, etc, etc? No probably not.

Have you shifted thru the mountains of evidence that proves most PD's force cases thru on nothing but hunches, hide/ignore evidence, fail to perform even 10% worth of due diligence, etc, etc...!? This is not the first time this issue has been brought, and it wont be the last!

Add that DA's fight appeals and exoneration's like angry pit-bulls - even with DNA testing proving innocence - and can stall and stall the alleged fair and unbiased justice system - and you're talking out of your hat!

Get a clue!

Dec. 11 2013 04:10 PM
Tony from Canarsie

roseellen -- I find it ironic that you're basing your conviction on a hunch.

Dec. 11 2013 01:09 PM
Joe from nearby

Many innocent people have gone to death row, even been executed, but DNA later proves they were innocent.
So it's easy to believe that people will falsely confess. Especially the vulnerable, like kids and those with psychological issues.

Dec. 11 2013 01:00 PM
jgarbuz from q

Great spies, criminals and terrorists are totally pathological liars often trained to resist and defeat the best interrogation techniques. Can you ask your guest if he knows about MRI brain scans and if those have made progress in separating the liars from the truthtellers?

Dec. 11 2013 12:37 PM

I don't buy people are falsely confessing. Though I'll never say never. I think it's extremely rare .Even the narrative about the central park jogger case is a false misleading narrative; the defendants did NOT confess as individuals to having taken part in that assault. Rather each defendant "confessed" that his friend did it. They pointed fingers at each other-in other words. That is very different from the what the media is saying about that event. That no dna evidence was found on the rape victim of having been raped By any of them does not mean they all did not participate in her attack. The media presents this fact as clear cut exoneration of all of them. I don't buy they were innocent though none of them may have had intercourse with her. The whole media/justice activists are deceiving us about this case and many other cases where the defendants get exonerated. Getting exonerated can simply be a technical fact which does not address the actual guilt of the "exonerated" convict. It is so rare to have an exoneration followed by a conviction of the actual perpetrator of the crime. THAT is what in most cases would convince me that the convict was wrongfully convicted.There are exceptions, of course. But these activists would have us believe there are all these false confessions and or false convictions. What's wrong with making a suspect nervous. There's nervous and there's nervous. There are two different kinds of nervous. I don't buy that if they're innocent they would get nervous and confess. There's nervous cause you don't like being questioned and held by the police and there's nervous cause you've been caught.One who understands nuance would be able to distinguish between the two kinds of nervousness! Your guest has no such understanding-apparently. The first caller just shows that though nervous he did not confess falsely because it does not make sense that one would. Your guest implies that's unusual. That's HIS bias that he's trying to indoctrinate us to accept. Your guest is clueless and gullable about people.

Dec. 11 2013 12:33 PM
Truth & Beauty from Brooklyn

It is readily apparent that this would never work with pathological liars and good poker players. Too easy to debunk this technique.

Dec. 11 2013 12:23 PM
Lena from Brooklyn

I've only been questioned by NYPD on the street (my boyfriend was stop-and-frisked), and it was very disorienting and frightening. I was told repeatedly by the questioning officer that I was lying, and he had evidence I was lying. I was telling him the truth, but the officer was so aggressive I found myself tempted to change my story. That situation showed me how someone in an intense interrogation might admit to something they never did.

Dec. 11 2013 12:22 PM

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