Interviewing and Confessions - Lecture 5 Flashcards Preview

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What is a voluntary confession?

A formal admission of guilt given freely, which can be true or false, usually made to the police.


What is the Innocent project USA?

A public policy organisation in US, has currently 325 DNA exonerations, about 25% of wrongful convictions identified using DNA evidence involved a false confession and 17 of those exonerated were facing the death sentence.


Are there differences between approaches taken to interrogation in the UK and US?

Yes, some that are lawful in US (usually those that involve deceit and lying) are not lawful in the UK.


What is PACE?

The Police and Criminal Evidence act (1984) - states that a tape recording of suspects interviews is mandatory, safeguards laid down for interviewing those mentally disordered or at risk.


What was introduced following the Birmingham six case of 1991?

The Royal Commission of Criminal Justice - it scrutinises operation of criminal justice system.


What percentage of interrogations results in confessions?

40-76% (Gudjonsson 2003)


What did Gudjonsson et al reveal in their 1994 experiment?

It involved 156 suspects at two police stations and they revealed that:
7% were suffering from mental illness
3% had learning difficulties
3% were illiterate
2% had language problems
Only 4% of the cases were the adults "appropriate" for interrogation.


What type of people does Gudjonsson propose are more prone to giving unreliable confessions?

People with mental disorders (eg. depression)
Abnormal mental state (eg. phobias, high anxiety)
Low intellectual abilities
Those scoring high on personality scales assessing compliance and suggestibility.


What did Stephenson and Moston find after surveying detectives in London in 1991?

Detectives' aims in majority of cases was to secure a confession as either main evidence or additional evidence.
Most detectives were sure of guilt of suspect before interview, largely on basis of evaluation of strength of evidence against suspect (confirmation bias).


What 3 things does PACE aim to do?

Shift emphasis from getting confession to seeing task as a search for the truth.
To encourage police officers to approach interview with open mind.
To encourage police to be fair.


What are the two types of false confessions (Kassin and Kiechel, 1996)?

Voluntary and Coerced.


When does a voluntary false confession occur?

It occurs in the absence of any obvious external pressure from others.


What are the 7 possible reasons that Kassin and Wrightman suggest for giving a voluntary false confession?

1. Desire for nobriety
2. Individual may feel guilty about previous event in his life and believe he deserves to be punished.
3. Inability to distinguish between fact and imagination.
4. Desire to protect someone else.
5. See no possible way of proving their innocence and wish to reduce severity of punishment
6. Pre-empt further investigation into more serious offences
7. Hide non-criminal facts


When does a coerced false confession occur?

When the individual has been persuaded


What are the further two break-downs?

Coerced-compliant and Coerced-internalised


What did Gudjonsson and Clark (1986) suggest that an individual will come with to an interrogation?

A general cognitive 'set' that may be hostile, suspicious or cooperative


What will this cognitive 'set' influence?

It will influence a suspects' appraisal of situation, and so affect the suspect's strategy for coping with interrogation.


What factors will the cognitive set be related to?

Level of stress and degree to which suspect has previous experience of police questioning


What are the two styles of initial coping responses that Gudjonsson and Clark describe?

1. That the suspect adopts a logical, realistic approach. Actively seek to deal with situation and are actively resistant to interrogator's persuasion to confess. Active resistance may weaken as interrogation progresses.
2. Suspect adopts passive, helpless stance. Avoid confrontation with interrogator so as to reduce stress. However, may lead to them being increasingly susceptible to interrogator's persuasive tactics.


What difficult decisions does a suspect have to make during questioning, other than just recalling information?

1. Have to decide how confident they are in their memories.
2. What answers to give interrogators (may not be same as suspect's private knowledge)
3. Whether they trust interrogator.


What happens when a suspect makes a coerced-compliant false confession?

The suspect remains aware that their confession and private, internal knowledge of event disagree, but suspect nevertheless comes to agree with interrogator.


What happens when a suspect makes a coerced-internalised false confession?

The suspect's internal account of events actually changes to fall into line with interrogator so that, both publicly and privately, suspect comes to agree with interrogator's version of events.


Why does coerced-compliance happen?

1. To please interrogator
2. To avoid physical harm
3. To avoid further detention and interrogation
4. Strike a deal with interrogator that brings some award for confessing.


Why does coerced-internalised happen?

Because the suspect comes to believe that their own memory for events is incorrect and that the police version must be true.
They may develop a memory for having committed the crime OR people may come to falsely believe they committed a crime, even though they have no memory of doing so.


What is the notion of interrogative suggestibility (Gudjonsson 1987)?

The extent to which, during intense questioning, people accept information communicated by the questioner and so change their responses.


What might trigger the suspect's suggestibility to misleading information?

Situational stress, low intelligence, low self-esteem, fatigue and memory ability.


What study did Kassin and Kiechel (1996) undertake?

A false confessions study where participants were asked to enter data into a computer but were not allowed to press ALT as this would crash the software.
Software was set up to crash and when it did, the participants were accused of pressing the ALT key.
All denied the charge.
Half were confronted with a witness who said they had hit ALT and 65% confessed to doing so.
Half were confronted with a witness who said they hadn't seen what had happened and only 12% confessed.


What study did Horselenburg et al (2006) undertake?

Participants were put in a situation where they could cheat by looking at an exam paper left on a desk while they were alone in a room.
They would know if they looked or not (unlike ALT which could have been an accident)
Small number confessed even though they hadn't looked.


What did Kassin (1997) discover about verbal and nonverbal cues made by the suspect?

That they could be read to determine if they are lying or not.


Ekman and O'Sullivan (1991) suggested that even skilled questioners are not .....

.. good at detecting deceit simply on the basis of a suspect's verbal and non-verbal cues.