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M4A1: Gans: Interrogation 1 [Type text]

Confessions play a vital role in law enforcement and crime control areas; however, they also provide a general source of controversy among many professionals. Questions regarding confessions and the methods used for obtaining them often arise in a legal and ethical context. For example, are the suspects statements authentic or is there reason to distrust the testimony? Was the defendants statement voluntary, or was he coerced during an interrogation? Further, was the suspect of sound mind or overly anxious, fatigued, and in any heightened state of suggestibility? All of these questions are illustrative of the complexity of the various issues surrounding confession evidence and the kinds of decisions judges and juries must ultimately determine in court (Kassin, 1997). After all, the main goal in obtaining a valid and reliable confession is to prosecute the suspect for their crimes, so everything must be admissible in a courtroom. To guard the integrity of the criminal justice system, to protect citizens against violations of due process, and to minimize the risk that innocent people will confess to crimes they didnt commit, the federal and state courts have established guidelines for the admission of confession evidence. Although there is no litmus test (any test that uses a single indicator to prompt a decision) (Culombe V. Connecticut, 1961, p. 601), a confession is typically excluded if it was obtained by physical force; prolonged isolation; deprivation of food or sleep, threats of harm or punishment; promise of immunity or leniency; or, with the exclusion of exceptional circumstances, without notifying the suspect of their constitutional rights. For law enforcement officials, the purpose of the interrogation is basically to obtain a full or partial confession by directly eliciting it, or through obtaining information relevant in some way to the authorities and case. Studies have indicated that the use of physical force in interrogations has given way to more psychologically oriented techniques such as feigned sympathy and friendship, the use of informants, the presentation of false and deceptive evidence, and other forms of trickery and deception (Leo & Liu, 2009). Much of the systematic observations done on these theories has suggested that tactics used by the police during interrogations are generally admissible in court. Often these tactics involve using both negative incentives like confronting the suspect with true or false incriminating evidence, refusing to accept denials, and noting contradictions in the suspects story, and positive incentives like appealing to the suspects self-interest or minimization strategies, offering of sympathy, understanding, and an alternative theme that minimizes the moral seriousness of the act (Wicklander & Zulawski, 2002).

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M4A1: Gans: Interrogation 2 [Type text]


This transformation of tactics from physical coercion to a more psychologically based technique, occurred partly in response to the influential Wickersham report, which disclosed widespread police brutality in the United States during the 1920s; partly in response to a thoughtful and well-intentioned police professionalism, as exemplified by Fred Inbau and his associates; and partly in response to changes in the law which forbade police to coerce confessions but allowed them to elicit admissions by deceiving suspects who had waived their right to remain silent. Thus, over the last fifty to sixty years, the methods, strategies, and consciousness of American police interrogators have been transformed: psychological persuasion and manipulation have replaced physical coercion as the most prominent and defining features of contemporary police interrogation. Contemporary police interrogation is, thus, routinely deceptive (Skolnick & Leo, 2002). Police deception that intrudes upon substantive constitutional rights is disallowed. For example, the Supreme Court has ruled that an officer cannot trick a suspect into waiving his Miranda rights. But apart from these constraints, the use of trickery and deception during interrogation is regulated solely by the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, and is proscribed, on a case-by-case basis, only when it violates a fundamental conception of fairness or is the product of offensive police misconduct. The courts have offered police few substantive guidelines regarding the techniques of deception during interrogation. Nor have the courts successfully addressed the relation between fairness and the lying of police, or the impact of police lying on the broader purposes of the criminal justice system, such as convicting and punishing the guilty. The main concern or conflict between obtaining the truth, not violating anyones rights, and performing interrogations, is that the interrogation is a single-minded concept with an objective in obtaining a confession. So, interrogation is by definition a guilt-presumptive process, a theory-driven social interaction led by an authority figure who already believes that they are interrogating the perpetrator and for whom a just outcome is measured by their confession (Kassin et al., 2010, p. 41). In utilizing the approaches to interrogations that police often do, they are basically commencing the process of interrogation with a single goal in mind: to persuade a suspect to tell the truth (Inbau et al, 2001, p. 211). Presumably, the rights to silence and counsel provided by the Miranda standards should protect suspects from unusually harsh interrogations. In Miranda V. Arizona (1966), the US Supreme Court required police to inform suspects of their constitutional rights to remain silent and receive legal counsel should they wish it. Only after a subject knowingly and voluntarily waives these rights are police permitted by law to commence

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M4A1: Gans: Interrogation 3 [Type text]


with their interrogation. As in the case example with the murder suspect, he was fully read his rights under the Miranda law and denied legal counsel and wished to proceed with the interrogation, although he did remark that he didnt do anything wrong anyways. In part, the process of interrogation is fairly successful to the extent that it provides police with a lawful method of convincing perpetrators to confess to their crimes. Although there are many methods that police can employ for any interrogation, each should be unique to the individual and the context. Most methods of interrogation do rely to some degree on the processes of influence and persuasion techniques; but this is basically inevitable in view of the often reluctance of many suspects to admit to their crimes. The question then becomes, what types of methods and uses of trickery in the interrogation room are acceptable and which are crossing over any ethical or legal lines. Further, problematic tactic concerns arise in the presentation of false evidence. In the US, police are permitted to bolster their accusations by telling suspects that there is incontrovertible evidence of their guilt even if no such evidence actually exists. However, such trickery can induce innocent people to confess to crimes they havent committed and misinformation presented in numerous forms, can substantially alter peoples visual perceptions, beliefs, memories for experienced and observed events, and behaviors. Psychologists and others have recently begun to classify and analyze the logic and process of these false confessions, which are among the leading causes of wrongful convictions. Perhaps most interesting is the coercedinternalized false confession, which is elicited when the psychological pressures of interrogation cause an innocent person to temporarily internalize the message(s) of his or her interrogators and falsely believe himself to be guilty. These internalized false confessions may be problematic to police interrogation methods, and can be illustrated in the case scenario. Whether or not the suspect is innocent is not entirely known, even given his confession, so regardless of his innocence or guilt, he does present as a malleable suspect that is told there is basically incontrovertible evidence of their involvement and come to not only succumb to their behavior, but also believe that they may have committed the crime in question. Typically, this occurs when people develop such a profound distrust of their new memories that they become vulnerable to influence from external sources. According to Melton, Petrila, Poythress, and Slobogin (2008), there are ten key aspects or techniques considered the standard for professional practices to obtaining a confession in an interrogation. Basically, they assert that once the guilty suspect has been identified with reasonable certainty, the next step in the process is to obtain an

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M4A1: Gans: Interrogation 4 [Type text]


admission of guilt. The interviews have borne fruit; the interrogation begins (p. 213). The Integrated Interrogation Technique maximizes the interrogator's ability to obtain a confession from the guilty suspect. This technique revolves around key factors, introduced into the conversation repeatedly during the interrogation. 1. Making a firm statement or assertion that suspect is guilty. a. The interrogator must begin with a firm statement of the suspect's guilt, expressing to the suspect that he truly believes he committed the crime; otherwise there is no reason for him to confess. This is especially important at the beginning because the investigator must initially control and direct the conversation (Boetig, 2005). This is a great place for the direct confrontation as was seen in the scenario. This Direct confrontation occurs when the investigator suggests they know that the suspect has committed the crime. They basically say, I know you did it, you know you did it, just admit it, and we can move on. The officers used a similar method when starting their interrogation as they came in and directly told the suspect why he was there and that an eyewitness placed him near the scene of the murder. 2. Forbid the use of denials from the suspect no matter how hard and often they try. a. Ninety percent of suspects will at some point begin to deny their involvement (Melton et al, 2008, p. 215). The more the suspect is allowed to deny the act without contradiction, the more the suspect's lies are reinforced. There are certain ways to overcome resistance. When the suspect starts to deny responsibility or involvement, the interrogator must stop the denial by either voice inflection and speaking over him, or holding his hand up, palm open and toward the suspect, like a traffic cop indicating Stop. They also suggest the use of domination; where the investigator does not allow the suspect to talk. They continue to talk, talk over, and talk louder than the suspect. They also suggest interrogators attempt to draw an objection from the suspect and use it to form a new theme. An objection is a reason why the accusation of guilt is incorrect. For example, if a suspect accused of armed robbery objects to owning a gun, this fact should be pulled out to form a new theme. The officers in the scenario use this technique as well in their own interrogation strategies. Basically, they continue talking over the suspect or alternating repeat questions about the crime when the suspect states he doesnt know or remember details. 3. Offer other possibilities and reasoning for occurrence of situation and why it may have happened. a. The interrogator must offer possible scenarios to explain why the crime may have been committed. He should go from possibility to possibility, until the suspect appears to show an interest in a scenario, and then expand upon that possible explanation. Many of these scenarios will minimize the blame for the impact of his act, making it easier for the suspect to admit his involvement. Projections of blame, relocates or transfers, some of the blame to someone or something else entirelysuch as the victim or society. In other words, the interrogator will construct a message that suggests that some other factor caused them to act as they did. 4. Do everything possible to undermine thee suspects confidence. a. Keep the suspect on the defensive by undermining his self-confidence. A person who has committed a crime invariably fears that incriminating evidence may have been left behind or may eventually turn up. The interrogator can play on that fear, that guilty conscience. The interrogators do a great job using this tool by being honest and up-front with the suspect, while simultaneously keeping him on his toes and worried about possible evidence. They told him that an eyewitness did place him near the scene of the crime, giving him the idea that there is probable cause and a great witness to utilize at their disposal but they dont try to manipulate him by deceiving this information and possibly loosing credibility. 5. Offer persuasive arguments for telling the truth. a. Fear versus desire. Most people who commit a crime experience guilt. There are only two ways to relieve it: confession or punishment. However, these conflict with each other. Almost every suspect will have a desire to confess, but fear of punishment inhibits it. Reminding the suspect that if he confesses to the crime, he will likely be treated differently than if he defiantly continues to

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M4A1: Gans: Interrogation 5 [Type text]


deny it despite the evidence against him is an example of enhancing the suspects desire to confess while reducing his fear of punishment. 6. Offer solutions, wherever possible, to help alleviate fear. a. The interrogator should never make promises he cannot keep. When possible, he can overcome the barriers preventing the suspect from telling the truth as the suspect brings them up. Theme development is a way to give the suspect an out or a justifiable reason for committing the crime. By downplaying the crime or placing the blame on the victim, the suspect is more likely to confess. If this scenario, when the suspect repeats he doesnt know or remember, the officers respond with an alternative choice by asking what he thinks would have happened given the circumstances. 7. Compliment the person in some manner. a. Reinforce sincerity to ensure that the suspect is receptive. The interrogator must get the suspect to admit to his "dark" side--his misdeeds. That's not easy for anyone to do. To help overcome that barrier, the interrogator should complement the suspect, taking note of some good attributes he possesses. 8. Use fewer leading questions with more alternating ones. a. By asking alternative and leading questions the interrogator makes it much easier for the suspect to admit his guilt. The alternative question facilitates a positive response but allows reduced culpability while the leading question enables a less threatening admission through nonverbal acquiescence (Melton et al., 2008). The interrogator should use tag lines in questions. The interrogator starts to ask the suspect non-leading and more open-ended questions instead of dominating the conversation. For example, the interrogator may begin asking the suspect why they committed the crime and let the suspect tell their version of events. This allows the suspect to give detailed explanations of the crime (Blair, 2005), and a solid case or understanding of the crime can be developed. For example, they may ask, You care about this, dont you? The interrogator can also move closer to the suspect and focus on maintaining eye contact. 9. Watch for the verbal and behavioral cues that the suspect is ready for submission. a. This strategy is referred to as developing details. The interrogator begins to withdraw a bit from the intensity and begins to modify their communication. These signs include sudden silence, listening attentively to what the interrogator is saying, dropping of the head and shoulders showing the nonverbal signs of submission, the nodding of the head up and down showing agreement with what is being said, or statements like What would happen if someone did do this? the interrogators in this step utilize their knowledge of verbal and non-verbal heavier to detect the level of readiness the suspect is at. So, they see the signs of submission, however, havent fully convinced the suspect to confess yet. Watching for indicators of false confessions is also important here. 10. Get the confession and wrap up the interrogation. a. When the interrogator notes the buy signs he must move in closer and ask for the sale. Now is the time that the suspect's perception of the interrogator's being in his intimate zone is no longer anxiety-producing, but comforting, and the proper proxemics zone for the suspect to tell his darkest secret. The interrogator's presentation should include alternative and leading question with a soft, accepting tone. The interrogators in this scenario didnt really use any extremely coercive techniques in their interrogation of the suspect with the only exception being the period he was kept at the police station without being allowed to leave. The reasoning for his confession and ultimately giving up was never fully explored which may cause concern for the possibility of a false confession without having all the bases and questions answered. He may have felt pressured and as if it was his only option, or it may all have been a part of the lie he was telling and maintaining. I

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didnt get the chance to see the full interrogation and all relevant case material so I didnt know if the officers spent time evaluating other aspects such as motive or other material that could be relevant to the case at hand and even the confession and its validity. No fake or false information was used as the eyewitness evidence was a real factor and they were upfront and honest about that and how it affected their suspicions. The only issues with this confession, aside from the length, is the possibility of a false confession or, more specifically, internalized false confessions dealing with his memory and whether that was an act or show or if he really did not remember the details and the police used suggestions and similar methods to convince him he had committed the crime. Identifying the suspects dishonesty is an important part of an interrogation. However, the interrogator must be able to convince the subject to confess. Most interviewers use stories and rationalizations to move the subject closer to a confession. The stories are intended to convince the suspect that they arent the first person to find themselves in their situation and that the first step to feeling better about the situation is to tell the truth. The stories that interviewers use may be real experiences or fabricated. Rationalizations are also an important part in the convincing of a suspect to confess. In this situation, the interrogator presents the possible reasons for the suspect to have committed the crime. Presenting these rationalizations allows the subject to give a face saving reply as to why they committed the crime. Finally, interviewers will often minimize the severity of the crime itself. This can be accomplished by softening the language used during the interview or interrogation. It this sense, murder may become hurt and etc. it is much easier for a subject to say that they borrowed a car without permission than to confess to carjacking (Hoffman, 2005). A large part of the interrogation will involve the interviewer offering these rationalizations and stories combined with minimizing the subjects actions. The investigator has to find a theme that the subject can relate to. Once that has happened, the suspects behavior will change. The subject will enter submission and be ready to confess. Some of the common signs of submission are: less forceful denials or lack of denials, slumped posture, eyes looking down, emotional crying or tearing eyes, and even letting out a sigh. When these signs occur, it is at this point that when the professional again makes an accusation, the suspect should accept it and acknowledge their guilt. Sometimes, however, this wont be a full-blown confession so the professional should do their best to keep the suspect talking about the crime so they dont recant their statement before it is official (Hoffman, 2005).

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M4A1: Gans: Interrogation 7 [Type text]


Once the subject has voiced the first admission, it may seem as if the interview is nearing the end. However, this is not necessarily the case. After the suspect has admitted their involvement, the investigator must develop that admission into a confession and also into a statement that is admissible in court. Although the process is not complete, one should not sell themselves too short, as the conclusion of the interview is an essential and difficult part of the process to get to. The subjects admission represents an important step in the interview process. It is a breakthrough that some interrogators do not even get to achieve. The subject has finally ceased to deny taking any part in the activity and accepts responsibility on some level. Yet, it is significant for the interrogator to move the suspect beyond the admission stage to the actual confession. A common technique used at this step in the process is known as the assumptive question and it helps in obtaining the first admission. Two commonly used types of assumptive questions are: the choice question and the soft accusation. The choice question is where the profession presents the suspect with two rationalizations, one good and one bad, then encourages the subject to choose. The interviewer may emphasize either the good or bad choice. For example, in the investigation of a shooting, the profession may use the following accusation: Bob, when you went over to the school did you intend to shoot Sue or just scare him with the gun? You just wanted to scare him, right? When the suspect answers yes to this rationalization, they have chosen an easy way to admit their involvement (Hoffman, 2005). The soft accusation, on the other hand, doesnt involve asking any specific questions regarding their involvement, but rather asks a broad question about the incident that basically assumes the suspects involvement. An example of this technique can be illustrated using a scenario of an investigation of an employee taking money from cash registers at their work. In this case, the interviewer may ask, Sue, when was the first time that you took money? This question is often then followed up with a choice question, or some sort of yes-no question (Hoffman, 2005). While these types of techniques are quite effective, they do only result in admissions and not full-blown confessions. The professional must continue to develop the admissions into a confession. In a confession, the subject takes responsibility for their actions and should be well supported with a detailed description of their actions and

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M4A1: Gans: Interrogation 8 [Type text]


motives. Once the suspect has made their confession, the interviewer should document the confession in a statement. The suspect's admission brings us to the third phase of the interrogation, Development of the Admission. This phase of the interrogation answers the questions who, what, where, when, how and why. The suspect's involvement in the criminal act is explored fully by the interrogator who looks for confirmation of the investigative findings. Another key purpose of this section of the interrogation is to expand the admission into other areas of dishonesty or criminal activity of which the interrogator may not even be aware. The development of the admission and the expansion of the individual's involvement can have a number of obvious benefits to the investigation or the organization. During this phase of the interrogation, the interrogator may be faced with an absolute denial from the suspect, "That is all I did and I don't care what you or your investigation say." This is the time to present evidence that clearly contradicts the suspect's statement. Even weaker circumstantial evidence is often enough to break this denial and gain additional admissions. Saving evidence for this phase of the interrogation often has a greater impact on the suspect than using it early in the interrogation to obtain the first admission (Hoffman, 2005). The final phase of the interrogation is preserving the statement for future use and witnessing it. This can be done in many different way and formats, but each captures the same information from the admission. The final statement contains the subject's admission and covers the elements of the crime or policy violation to which the suspect has admitted. The language clearly details what was done; by whom and in what context it was done. The suspect's statement may be handwritten, audio/video taped, or taken by a court reporter. Regardless of the format, the information included accurately portrays the suspect's admission and its voluntary nature. A modern polygraph examination has a structured validated testing sequence and scoring method that can achieve highly accurate results when used by an experienced examiner. The polygraph instrument is merely a recording device that monitors and preserves the physiological changes occurring in the subjects body while he is being asked questions. A polygraph examiner constructs three different types of questions to use during the examination. Each question is reviewed with the subject before it is used in the test. This is done so that the responses recorded during the examination are the result of the subjects emotional response to the question and not the surprise of being asked an unexpected question. Reviewing the questions with the subject also ensures that each question can be answered with a yes or no and that the subject understands what is being asked in the question.

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Another use of the polygraph is to test the reliability of an informants information. Many large-scale investigations are begun based on information from a non-employee informant. Establishing the veracity of the informants information before committing large-scale resources to an investigation is often prudent.

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References Blair, J. (2005). What Do We Know About Interrogation in the United States? Journal of Police and Criminal Psychology, 20 (2); p. 44-47. Boetig & Parsi. (2005). Reducing a guilty suspects resistance to confessing: applying criminological theory to interrogation theme development. The FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, 13(8). Culombe v. Connecticut, 367 U.S. 568 (1961). Hoffman, C. (2005). Investigative interviewing: Strategies and techniques. Retrieved from http://ifpo.org/articlebank/interviewing.pdf Inbau, F. E., Reid, J. E., Buckley, J. P., & Jayne, B. C. (2001). Criminal interrogation and confessions (4th ed.). Gaithersburg, MD: Aspen. Kassin, S. (1997). The psychology of confession evidence. American Psychologist, 52 (3); 221-233. Kassin, S. (2005). On The Psychology of Confessions: Does Innocence Put Innocents at Risk? American Psychologist, 60(3); p 215, 228. Kassin, S., Appleby, S., & Perillo, J. (2010). Interviewing suspects: Practice, science, and future directions. Legal and Criminological Psychology, 15; 39-55.

M4A1: Gans: Interrogation 10 [Type text]


Leo, R. A., & Liu, B. (2009). What do potential jurors know about police interrogation techniques and false confessions? Behavioral Sciences and the Law, 27(3), 381399. Melton, G., Petrila, J., Poythress, N., & Slobogin, C. (2008). Psychological evaluations for the courts: A handbook for mental health professionals and lawyers. (3rd ED.). New York, NY: Guilford Press Skolnick, J., & Leo, R. (2002). The ethics of deceptive interrogation. Criminal Justice Ethics, 11 (1); 81-96. Wicklander, D., & Zulawski, D. (2002). The Process of Interrogation. Loss Prevention Magazine.

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