innocence blog

A Web log for the Innocence Institute of Point Park University

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

False confessions

An Orange County Register story showed how high-pressure police tactics can get juvenile suspects to falsely confess. The paper detailed the case of a 14-year-old boy suspected of brutally murdering his 12-year-old sister.

The police used "false promises, isolation from parents and attorneys, even threats of adult prison and predatory older inmates to persuade the teenager to drop his protestations of innocence," the paper reported. Eventually, the boy confessed.

The only problem: Police found a shirt taken from a 34-year-old schizophrenic transient with the victim's blood on it. The San Diego DA eventually dropped the charges against the boy.

The story is similar to a case detailed in the Wilkes-Barre Times Leader about a 7-year-old boy charged with setting a fatal fire. According to the paper, the boy's grandmother said he was miles away at the time and police used tricks and lies to get him to confess.

Police allegedly told the boy he was caught on videotape setting the fire and gave him pizza and candy to get him to confess. The Northwestern and Virginia innocence projects are now working on the case.


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