It seems crazy to think that anyone would confess to a crime they did not commit, but it still happens. There are many reasons why someone may confess even though they are innocent, and one of the ways New Jersey is combatting the problem is with the recording of custodial interrogations.
According to the Innocence Project, DNA evidence is used to overturn wrongful convictions. In many of these situations, false confessions were also part of the conviction.
Reasons a person may confess to a crime
Researchers and scientists have long wondered why people would confess to crimes when they are innocent. After years of studying the phenomenon, they came up with several reasons this may happen.
- Law enforcement may use the threat of force or actual force during the interrogation process
- False statements used to intimidate suspects
- Intimidation of law enforcement, both real and perceived
- Fear that they will face harsher punishment if they do not confess
Suspects may also confess when they are innocent because they are hungry, exhausted and stressed. Limited education, mental limitations and substance abuse are contributing factors in many false confessions.
Misunderstanding of rights and age also a factor
Young people are often intimidated by older law enforcement officers, and many do not know what rights they have when they are arrested or questioned. Recording conversations while a person is in custody allows for a review of the interrogation if the suspect claims they confessed even though they are not guilty of the crime.
Activists want all states to adopt the recording method, as there are benefits to both law enforcement and the innocent. Protecting the rights of each person is particularly important when they give a confession.