How To Get Your Own False Confession

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“If you decide the suspect is lying, you leave the room and wait for five minutes. Then you return with an official-looking folder. ‘I have in this folder the results of our investigation,’ you say. You remain standing to establish your dominance. ‘After reviewing our results, we have no doubt that you committed the crime. Now, let’s sit down and see what we can do to work this out.’”

“The next phase—Interrogation—involves prodding the suspect toward confession. Whereas before you listened, now you do all the talking. If the suspect denies the accusation, you bat it away. ‘There’s absolutely no doubt this happened,’ you say. ‘Now let’s move forward and see what we can do.’ If he asks to see the folder, you say no. ‘There’ll be time for that later. Now let’s focus on clearing this whole thing up.’

“‘Never allow them to give you denials,’ Senese told us. ‘The key is to shut them up.’”

-Douglas Starr, in The New Yorker (now free for everyone), on how police have traditionally used The Reid Technique to get confessions—some of which have later turned out to be false.

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Photo: boelaars, Flickr

Editorial, Automattic / WordPress.com / Founder, Longreads
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