We’re finding more and more false confessions. Most of these are the result of poor police practice.
The confession is the gold standard for criminal convictions. You will find many of those confessions are typewritten by officers who carefully construct the confession to incorporate what the confessor said with his/her admission to all the elements of the crime committed. This is a terrible practice and unintentionally promotes false confessions.
Police practices should require the confessor to write handwritten confessions. The officers can supplement that with additional questions to which the confessor can write responses. However, the confession needs to be in the confessor’s own handwriting. If the confessor cannot handwrite, the officer should record the confession and, with a witness, have the confessor sign an accurate transcription.
There are many reasons for this recommendation:
- The officer’s rendition will include terms the confessor defines differently;
- precise details would have been written differently by the confessor;
- the confession will be much more difficult to challenge;
- the confession is much less likely to be a false confession.