Wednesday, February 4, 2015

False Confessions (1); A former detective’s (James "Jim" Trainum) perspective in which the process leading to wrongful convictions is described as: "disturbingly humdrum, rational, and routine;" Life After Innocence.

POST: "False confessions: A former detective's perspective," published by Life After Innocence," (Loyola School of Law)  on January 22, 2014.

GIST: "Per the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project, Trainum does not describe a hostile environment where loose-cannon cops browbeat witnesses and wreck emotional havoc on frightened suspects with utter impunity. If anything, Trainum’s revealing explanation of the detective’s role in an interrogation – “sorting through the half-truths” – presents the wrongful conviction process as disturbingly humdrum, rational, and routine. He conducted the proper tests. He spoke calmly and did not make threats. But ever since he unwittingly procured a false confession more than 20 years ago, Trainum has been re-tracing his mistakes and advocating for interrogation reform as a result.........As for Trainum, while his openness (he also spoke on This American Life in October 2013) may lead to justice for Kim Crafton, the wrongfully convicted woman, he and the city for which he worked may also be found liable. According to this article from roughly four months ago, Trainum’s detailed public breakdown of how his interrogation yielded a false confession provided Crafton with “ammunition” to sue Trainum and the District of Columbia for coercing her confession. Crafton’s lawsuit in particular blames her confession on Trainum’s use of the controversial Reid technique of interrogation, which is no longer used by the Metropolitan Police Department."

The entire post can be found at:

See Washington City Paper story: "Crafton's lawsuit blames her confession in part on Trainum's use of the Reid technique, an interrogation method that has been criticized for producing false confessions. An MPD (Metropolitan Police Department) official not authorized to speak about pending lawsuits tells LL that MPD detectives are no longer trained in that interrogation style."

See also: Joseph Buckley, President of Reid and Associates, defends "The Reid Technique" in a letter sent to The Charles Smith Blog in response to another post;
"It is often stated that the Reid Technique "shows no interest in learning the truth, but the goal is to seek a confession." We clearly state the exact opposite in our book Criminal Interrogation and Confessions (5th edition 2013) on page 5: "The purpose of an interrogation is to learn the truth. A common misperception exists in believing that the purpose of an interrogation  is to elicit a confession.... If the suspect can be eliminated [from suspicion] based on his or her behavior or explanations offered during the interrogation, the interrogation must be considered successful because the truth was learned."


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