Criminal interrogation and confessions

Partly because of the overzealousness of the police and prosecution, as well as because of the presumption of guilt that accompanies an arrest and the immense power of the prosecution relative to the typical defense attorney, many innocent people will plead guilty (and some even confess to the police) to crimes they did not commit. Many of these plea bargains result in immediate freedom for the accused, through either release for time served or a probation sentence. Remember—a plea of guilty is not necessarily an admission of guilt.

It can be as much a strategy for avoiding punishment as a not guilty plea is by a factually guilty suspect. Third, is a false/coerced confession. Some police officers may occasionally resort to any and all tactics necessary to gain convictions of people they truly believe to be guilty so that the end—a conviction or justice as an outcome— justifies the means in their minds, violating justice as a process. In fact, some early texts on criminal interrogations and confessions encourage trickery by police to encourage confessions, which is actually allowed by courts (e. g. , see Inbau and Reid 1967).

Cases of false confessions abound in the United States such as the case of James Richardson, a poor African American farm worker with an IQ of only 77, stands out. Richardson confessed to poisoning seven of his own children and stepchildren and was imprisoned and sentenced to death in 1968. Richardson served 22 years before being freed for these crimes, which he did not commit. The prosecution, suggesting that Richardson laced his children’s lunches with poison and planned their deaths in advance, showed evidence that

Richardson had sought life insurance policies for his children right before their deaths (in fact, a door-to-door insurance salesman had visited the day before and simply left his card). The children’s babysitter, who was ultimately admitted to medical care for Alzheimer’s disease, admitted more than 100 times that she had killed the children. Richardson said that he had been beaten into confessing his crime. The sheriff’s deputy who allegedly coerced the confession out of Richardson probably believed that Richardson was guilty, but his unjust means resulted in an unjust outcome.

Act (HSA) and the Patriot Act as they relate to preventing and controlling terrorism in the U. S. Also, summarize the concerns of the American Civil Liberties Union as they relate to the two acts. In your opinion, are the ACLU's concerns legitimate? Why or why not? With the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on American soil, some have argued that we are now seeing the end of the era of community policing and the beginning of the homeland security era.

As America responded quickly to the attacks by educating themselves on terrorism and demanding action from government, the president and the U. S. Congress quickly began a process of restructuring government to focus on antiterrorism (prevention techniques) and counterterrorism (how to actively respond to terrorists) measures in order to meet these new demands. The creation of the Office of Homeland Security and its subsequent passage as a cabinet-level department as well as the passage of the USA Patriot Act are both inclinations that the national government is moving in this direction.

In addition, many of the grants for local agencies are now centered on homeland security, and perhaps most telling is the fact that the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services had its budget slashed by the Bush administration, but the Department of Homeland Security has seen its budget allocations increase substantially. Although only time will tell if American law enforcement has entered into a new era of policing, there is little doubt that homeland security has become an overriding policy of the current administration and that, with the reelection of President George W.

Bush, it will continue to be at least until January 2009. The concerns of the American Civil Liberties Union as they relate to the two acts is that they fear that these acts may somehow limit our right of free speech, right of self incrimination, right of due process and right of illegal search and seizure. These concerns of ACLU as a renown interest group that focuses on protecting human rights and particularly constitutional rights of American citizens, especially Amendment rights are legitimate.

In addition, ACLU helps ensure that the civil rights of all individuals are protected. The Bayliss article deals with some of the practical problems posed for law enforcement and other governmental agencies in dealing with terrorism. What are some of the fundamental concerns addressed by Bayliss in this regard? What does he appear to believe is the most crucial element in dealing with some of these concerns? The Bayless article is fundamentally concerned with a one constant that overlaps all homeland security efforts, that is communication during crisis-such as a terrorist attack:

Communication technology must enable law enforcement agencies to   rapidly contact as many people as necessary in a time of crisis. Within minutes, important messages are delivered to neighborhoods, public officials, business districts and countless other individuals and groups. In essence, notification technology serves as a communication ladder, providing links between law enforcement officials and important target audiences from the ground up (p. 47, emphasis in original).

Hence, his fundamental concern in this regard is quick communication with surrounding jurisdictions such as the government officials, the media, and the general public is invaluable. He appear to believe that the most crucial element in dealing with threats to society such as terrorism is the role of communication to control chaos and to hopefully save the public with  important instructions through quick and life-saving communications.


Bayless, K. (May/April 2004). Communicating through crisis. Sheriff, 56(2), 47- 50. In their article, Sheehan, Everly, and Langlieb (2004) discuss five "best practices" to be followed in dealing with major critical incidents. What are these five best practices? What are the five core competencies that are featured in these best practices? To your knowledge, how many of the best practices have been implemented in your geographic area? If not all have been implemented, why do you think that is the case? What can be done about implementing those that are missing?