The Central Park Five case demonstrates some of the problems with police interrogation techniques, and also the policies and procedures applied to juveniles. In every case, law enforcement uses criminal interrogation as a primary means of data collection. However, the purpose of criminal interrogation is not necessarily as straightforward as it may seem. The use of criminal interrogations to elicit confessions often leads to the implementation of methods that are ineffective at gaining the truth, even while they may be highly effective at gaining wrongful convictions.
Intimidation, deception, and psychological abuse are some of the methods that may be used during police interrogations due in part to political and work-related pressures to gain confessions from a suspect at all costs (Kossowska & Grochowska, n.d.). In the 2012 Ken Burns documentary about the Central Park Five case, viewers have access to footage that directly captures the interrogation techniques the police used with the five teenagers. All of the teenagers can be considered vulnerable in this case, as all were minors as well as young men of color. As Duru (2004) points out, the Central Park Five case demonstrates the pervasiveness of racial and gender stereotypes in policing and criminal justice because of the myth of the bestial black man, (p. 1315). Race, class, and gender converged in the Central Park Five case, but ultimately it was the means by which police perform their interrogations that led to false confessions. In the Central Park Five case, the five young men of color were presumed guilty until they were eventually proven innocent and released after losing years of their lives.
Interrogation techniques used in the Central Park Five case were standard practice and proper in the sense that these are methods that are condoned based on a utilitarian ethical perspective in which the ends (any confession to the crime) justifies the means (intimidation, coercion, manipulation, and deceit) (Kossowska & Grochowska, n.d.). While lying, deceit, and intimidation may occasionally lead to actual confessions, much of the time and particularly with vulnerable populations like the five boys, such interrogation techniques can too…are fair is to record them in their entirety using digital devices (Leo & Richman, 2007). Another way to improve police interrogation techniques is to absolutely ban the use of deception and psychological coercion when working with minors.
Most importantly, I would mandate ongoing professional development and training for all law enforcement officers in accordance with emerging evidence on what works best. There is a clear need for balancing the need to close investigations with the need to achieve the goals of criminal justice. Research in psychology and sociology can help guide best practices in law enforcement to prevent false confessions and wrongful convictions. Ultimately, the culture of policing needs to change, whereby greater accountability is built into the system. Cognitive biases, prejudice, and the entrenchment of unethical practices in policing all caused the five young men falsely confess to a crime they did not commit. Until the organizational culture of law enforcement changes, interrogation techniques will remain as they are: hostile, antagonistic, and based on the counterintuitive and unconstitutional premise that individuals who seem…
Wrongful Conviction Review: Henry James Wrongful convictions are convictions where "factually innocent people are convicted of crimes" (Acker & Redlich, 2011, p.3). There are a number of ways that wrongful convictions can occur. Two of these ways are no crime convictions and wrong man convictions (Acker & Reclich, 2011, p.7-8). No crime convictions occur when someone is convicted of a crime, generally murder, and then it is later discovered that no
Wrongful Conviction of James Henry Henry James was only 19 years during his conviction for rape that he did not commit. It is after thirty years imprisonment that the realization of his innocence emerges thereby keeping it free. This case is a good example of the importance of evidence in the proceedings of a case. The imprisonment of the innocent man arose because of the little evidence that he had against
The over-enthusiasm associated with the extensive and unrestrained caution which the prosecutors avail gives birth to the settings in which a prosecutor is able to cause the conviction of an innocent individual. Besides, the mixture of over-enthusiasm and unimpeded discretion on one side and regular non-adversarialness on the other outcomes in an irregular playing field in majority of the defendants either guilty or innocent. (Griffin, 1274) The apparent cases of
Why would somebody confess to a crime they did not commit? According to professor Kassin, Saul, there are several types of people who falsely confess: compulsive type-attention seeker -- confesses to gain a piece of the fame, impress others, or to get attention compulsive type-homeless -- confesses as a way to get off the streets compulsive type-fugitive -- confesses to avoid being prosecuted for a crime elsewhere with stiffer penalties compulsive
Wrongful Convictions Based on Eyewitness Accounts Imagine if you will this hypothetical scenario -- you are walking to your car in a parking garage after a long day at work. You are tired and thinking of what is waiting for you on your desk tomorrow and what you will have to eat when you get home. Suddenly, a man jumps out from behind a parked car and points a gun at
(iv) misconduct by the police or unintentional mistake, together with the application of suggestive identification procedures, pressuring of a confession or inculpatory declaration by a suspect, not carrying out other channels of investigation following initial detection of a powerful suspect, and being unsuccessful to give the prosecutor enough proof which is able to point to an individual other than the defendant as the person behind the act. (v) Mistake