Crime

How Police Interrogation Works

Posted on March 19, 2007. Filed under: Crime, GITMO, Guantánamo Bay, Interrogation, Police |

For all you “wannabe criminal teenagers” out there, and those of you at Guantánamo Bay, who have internet access!!! 😉

There are “Law & Order” addicts everywhere who think they could get a perp to confess. A little glaring, some getting in the guy’s face, a revelation that his fingerprints are all over the murder weapon and voilà! He’s recounting his crime. In real life, police interrogation requires more than confidence and creativity (although those qualities do help) — interrogators are highly trained in the psychological tactics of social influence.

Getting someone to confess to a crime is not a simple task, and the fact that detectives sometimes end up with confessions from the innocent testifies to their expertise in psychological manipulation. No two interrogations are alike, but most exploit certain weaknesses in human nature. These weaknesses typically rely on the stress that results when people experience contrasting extremes, like dominance and submission, control and dependence, and the maximization and minimization of consequences. Even the most hardened criminal can end up confessing if the interrogator can find the right combination of circumstances and techniques based on the suspect’s personality and experiences. In the United States, scholars estimate that somewhere between 42 percent and 55 percent of suspects confess to a crime during interrogation.

Police interrogations weren’t always so complex. Until the early 1900s in the United States, physical abuse was an acceptable (if not legal) method of getting a confession. Confessions obtained by “third degree” techniques — deprivation of food and water, bright lights, physical discomfort and long isolation, beating with rubber hoses and other instruments that don’t leave marks — were usually admissible in court as long as the suspect signed a waiver stating the confession was voluntary. Between the 1930s and 1960s, though, a crackdown on police tactics gradually changed the practice of interrogation.

Read more after the jump…

+ How Police Interrogation Works [via howstuffworks]

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