This volume presents the full text of a 1931 study of police misconduct and prosecutorial misconduct designed to obtain a confession or other information from a suspect or crime witness, together with an overview of a series of publications focusing on political violence in United States history.
The study focuses on cases and appellate court decisions regarding the use of the "third degree," the infliction of physical or mental suffering on a person to obtain a statement or confession. Data were gathered by means of a review of literature and legal issues and a questionnaire survey and interviews with criminal justice personnel and others. Results revealed that the practice is widespread. It is used mainly against suspects between the time of arrival at the police station and the preliminary appearance in court. Supporters argue that the tactic is necessary to obtain the facts and that it is used only against guilty persons. Opponents note that it can result in false confessions and reduces respect for the criminal justice system. The media can help reduce its use by giving it constant publicity. In addition, every community should have a disinterested agency to which citizens can report abuses. Footnotes, survey instrument, and appended tables and summaries of State laws
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Report to the National Commission on Law Observance and Enforcement