Saul Kassin's research looks at why innocent people confess. Why would an innocent person accused of a crime tell investigators he's guilty? Saul Kassin, a psychology professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, has spent decades researching that question, and says the answer resides in the incredible pressures that can mount during police interrogations. Suspects can provide false confessions because they're particularly vulnerable to such pressure, they simply want the experience to end, or actually come to believe they're guilty, even in the face of evidence to the contrary. False confessions pose a serious problem for fact-finding investigations. They can bias investigations and lead investigators to focus on the wrong suspect.
Confessions of a Father
New York City Police Department corruption and misconduct - Wikipedia
People are generally skeptical that someone would falsely confess to a crime he or she did not commit. Nonetheless, a myriad of convicts exonerated by DNA and the rapidly emerging scientific literature on the subject calls into question this long-standing belief. Scholars in the field now recognize that personal and situational risk factors, including promises of leniency, heighten the risk of a false confession. Promises of leniency have been shown to be particularly coercive in interrogations and to produce unusually persuasive testimony in the courtroom. Due to a failure to recognize the power behind these promises, our justice system does not adequately safeguard criminal defendants who give promise-induced confessions. As such, federal appellate courts are in disarray over when a promise of leniency renders a confession inadmissible at trial. On the other hand, the power behind promises in the plea-bargaining context is better recognized by scholars and laypeople alike and our justice system consequently provides much greater safeguards to criminal defendants who plead guilty in response to a promise.
New York City Police Department corruption and misconduct
Kassin The social psychology of false confessions. Social Issues and Policy Review.
We have represented a number of criminal defendants seeking exoneration, as well as exonerees seeking justice in civil lawsuits. How did these defendants get convicted? False confessions and mistaken witness identification often play a decisive role.