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Police interrogation: no, they're not focued on your best interests

We ask readers in today's post whether they think they can reasonably infer something about a police interrogation where a suspect who is persistently questioned and challenged without the assistance of legal counsel for six hours by investigators ultimately confesses to the rape and slaying of a neighbor ... and then asks if he is free to leave for a scheduled camping trip with his family.

Oh, and there's one other piece of relevant information regarding that interrogation, as noted in a media article on the link between certain interrogation techniques and false confessions uttered by mentally challenged suspects, namely this: the questioned party reportedly never offered any evidence of the crime that wasn't first passed along to him by the very people interrogating him. In other words, he lacked so-called "guilty knowledge" of the rape and killing.

That man was subsequently acquitted at trial by jurors who believed that he falsely confessed to a crime he knew nothing about.

The above article puts a spotlight on a special questioning process known as the "Reid technique," which is centrally marked by confrontation and non-stop questioning over hours. A psychology professor and false-confession expert who offers testimony in criminal trials calls the Reid approach "psychologically powerful," noting that it is known for eliciting bogus confessions from suspects who grow progressively frightened, confused and worn down.

It is certainly easy to see how that can be the outcome for a mentally impaired individual, especially when he or she is unassisted by a proven legal defense attorney.

Combining vulnerability with "really skilled interrogators" can be a recipe for a profoundly inequitable criminal law result, states the professor/confession analyst.

Individuals being questioned by police have a constitutional right to be represented by an attorney. Select cases -- such as the one described above -- render it flatly clear that not having counsel on hand during an arduous and unrelenting interrogation can yield frighteningly adverse consequences.

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