chapter  77
4 Pages

False Confessions and Suggestibility

WithGisli H. Gudjonsson

In his recent book, Garrett1 reviewed the first 250 cases of DNA exonerations in the United States. The majority of the convictions were for rape (68%), murder (9%), and both rape and murder (21%). Forty (16%) involved cases of false confessions, and most worryingly, Garrett discovered “… that all but two of those exonerated reportedly confessed to details about the crime that only the killer or rapist could have known. Those specific facts must have been improperly disclosed to exonerees, most likely by police” and were incorporated into their confession statement and subsequently used to convict them. This supports the view of Kassin and Gudjonsson2 that suggestibility and compliance are key psychological factors relevant to police-induced false confessions.