False Confessions in the Central Park Jogger Case

Jim Dwyer writes another excellent article on the five convicted youths in the Central Park Jogger case in Sunday's New York Times called Crimes Admitted, but Not Committed.

Trying to explain why someone would confess to something they didn't do is not easy. Jim makes it a little more understandable.

"In place of the rubber hose, the law grants wide latitude in the use of psychological pressures — the kind of cajoling good-cop-bad-cop routines seen on "NYPD Blue" that are part of standard police training manuals. That these techniques produce thousands of authentic confessions from criminals every year is beyond dispute. That these same techniques also produce a number of false confessions is also beyond dispute."

Using actual cases, not just that of the Central Park jogger, Jim reviews some of more prevalent reasons. Here's an example:

"Last Thursday, in Illinois, Gov. George Ryan pardoned four men who had been sent to prison as teenagers for the rape and murder of a medical student. Two of them had confessed and implicated the other two. None of them, DNA tests later showed, had anything to do with the attacks. That same DNA evidence recently implicated two other men. Why did the first group falsely confess? One man said he figured that at age 17, by cutting a deal, he would get out of prison by the time he was 23. The second man had an I.Q. between 65 and 70, according to his lawyer, and quickly buckled under questioning."

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