Shipping News and Reviews

Lying by police suspects is illegal in several countries. Why is it still legal in the US?

Although the urge to ban adults during interrogation is not as strong for minors in the United States, states willing to consider moving might relate to their format in other countries. In England, for example, it was banned in 1984. Other countries like Australia and New Zealand later passed similar laws.

"Many other countries have long banned misleading interrogation practices," Sklansky said. "Germany has banned it for decades, so there are many precedents around the world. "

Conversation about police lying was limited to minors as the tactic – known as the Reid Technique – has been the bedrock of American police force for generations.

"The United States believed that often the best way for police to uncover the truth is by deceiving people, and this is reflected not only in the way police officers actually interrogate suspects but also in popular culture," Sklansky said Deception has long been used in classic detective series such as Columbo. “The idea was that the police would not induce an innocent person to confess; You will only trick one culprit. "

In reality, deception and misleading statements during police interrogations can lead even innocent people to unwittingly incriminating themselves, explained Cynthia Najdowski, associate professor of psychology at SUNY Albany who studies the psychological causes of miscarriage of justice.

"In some cases, police officers can lie by saying they have video evidence showing you at the scene or that they have your fingerprints from the crime scene," said Najdowski. When they hear that there is incriminating evidence against them, often after hours of interrogation by the police, respondents “feel that there is no other way for them to get out of this situation than simply to tell the detective what he is Detective wants to hear ”.

Many innocent people who confess to crimes they did not commit often feel that things can be resolved later because they know they are innocent of wrongdoing.

"Innocence is actually a risk factor for false confessions because innocent people are less likely to assert their Miranda rights and assert their right to a lawyer," said Najdowski. "They're more likely to go to that interrogation or interview and say something that the police can use as evidence against them."

In her research, Najdowski also found that juries believe that innocent people would not confess to something they did not do.

"The jury will sometimes see that the conditions are imperative, so they can acknowledge it and say, 'Oh yes, the detective lied, the interrogation was long,'" said Najdowski. "Maybe [they will even say] 'I think the police overdone it, but the confession is still true." "

Kate Levine, a law professor at Cardozo Law School, points out, among other things, that the police know that it is wrong to be lied to because they protect themselves from it.

"Most of the police [departments] have a Bill of Rights, and in general when they are questioned one of the things on their Bill of Rights is that they cannot be lied to, "she said. "It also shows you that it is a tactic that the police know is problematic."

An investigation into the UK and other jurisdictions that banned police from lying shows that an effective investigation is possible, Sklansky said.

"I don't think there is any evidence that this ban interfered with effective interrogation in the UK, New Zealand or Australia," he said. "There is some evidence in these countries that it has reduced the incidence of false confessions by innocent people."

Should states enact far-reaching bans on police lying, law enforcement agencies across the country would have to adopt a new approach to interrogation.

"It would require retraining that other countries have done," Sklansky said. “When England banned fraudulent interrogation in 1984, it did so as part of a major reform of the way police interrogations were conducted. The officers were retrained in a new method of interrogation. "

But while current interrogation methods are still legal, Levine says there are relatively simple things the average American can do to protect their rights.

"No one should never seek legal aid right away, but four-fifths of people forego their Miranda rights," she said, noting that many Americans might be surprised that the police are allowed to lie to suspects. “It is very rare for lawmakers to feel pressure from people who vote for them to extend more rights to those who have been arrested or charged with crimes. Awareness is an important first step. "

Lakshmi Gandhi is a reporter, editor, and social media manager based in New York City. She is currently a freelance journalist specializing in literature, identity and pop culture. Her articles have appeared on, HISTORY, Tricycle: The Buddhist Review, The Juggernaut, Metro New York, and other publications. She often reports on the intersections of gender, identity and pop culture and is exceptionally good at making book recommendations.

prism is a non-profit news agency run by BIPOC that puts the spotlight on the people, places and topics currently not covered by the national media. We strive to produce a journalism that treats blacks, indigenous and colored people, women, the LGBTQ + community and other invisible groups as experts on our own lived experiences, our resilience and our struggle for justice. Subscribe to our email list to get our stories in your inbox, and ffollow us further Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Comments are closed.