Not everyone forced to serve time behind bars is guilty of committing a crime. Some people are the victims of flaws in the judicial system and have been wrongfully convicted of a crime they did not commit.
According to the Innocence Project, more than 360 people have been released from their prison sentences after further investigation into the crime proved their innocence. Many of these cases involved a person signing a false confession.
Why do people sign false confessions?
It may be hard to understand why someone would sign a confession that was untrue or invalid, especially if it incriminates them. Yet, there are many things that go on in the interrogation room that may prompt this action. Law enforcement officers may use questionable tactics during the interrogation process to get someone to sign a statement. This includes the following:
- Depriving sleep and food
- Threatening or using of violence
- Depriving medication or abused substances
- Saying there is already evidence linking the person to the crime when there is not
- Telling the person that if they do not confess, they will receive a harsher punishment
Some people may have mental limitations and may not understand what is going on while they are being questioned.
What are their rights?
It is important that people know their rights when they are being questioned about a crime. Law enforcement should record the interrogation so a judge or jury can review what went on during the process. It is also vital that the person being interrogated is offered to speak with their attorney. Currently, California requires taping of all interrogations, which can benefit law enforcement officers as well.