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Interviewing Suspects: Practice, Science, and Future Directions

NCJ Number
Legal and Criminological Psychology Volume: 15 Issue: 1 Dated: February 2010 Pages: 39-55
Saul M. Kassin; Sara C. Appleby; Jennifer Torkildson Perillo
Date Published
February 2010
17 pages
This article examines ways to reduce false confessions and increase the diagnostic value of classic police interrogation through the reduction in use of extreme forms of confrontation and trickery and encouraging the use of investigative interviewing practices.
Crime suspects in the United States are typically questioned in a two-step process aimed, first, at behavioral lie detection during a pre-interrogation interview, followed by the elicitation of a confession during the interrogation itself (in Great Britain, the practice of investigative interviewing does not make this sharp distinction). Research conducted on the first step show that police investigators often target innocent people for interrogation because of erroneous but confident judgments of deception. Research on the second step shows that innocent people are sometimes induced to confess to crimes they did not commit as a function of certain dispositional vulnerabilities or the use of overly persuasive interrogation tactics. Citing recent studies, this paper proposes that laboratory paradigms be used to help build more diagnostic models of interrogation. Substantively, it is suggested that the British PEACE approach to investigative interviewing may provide a potentially effective alternative to the classic American interrogation. As a matter of policy, it is suggested that the videotaping of entire interrogations from a balanced camera perspective is necessary to improve the fact finding accuracy of judges and juries who must evaluate confession evidence in court. References (Published Abstract)