Thursday, March 9, 2017

The Reid Technique (2): Under siege, John E. Reid and Associates responds to Wicklander-Zulawski's bombshell announcement that it is ceasing use of the Reid technique because of the risk of false confessions.

PUBLISHER'S NOTE: For years, this Blog has has been reporting on the dangerous inherent in use of the Reid method of interrogation which has been used in criminal justice jurisdictions around the world - even as mounting scientific research demonstrated its flaws and the number of exonerations based on false confessions  steadily increased. It is therefore a most significant event when Wicklander-Zulawski, which describes itself as "a world leader in interview and interrogation training services for federal government agencies, law enforcement organizations and corporations," announces that it will no longer offer training in the controversial method. Wicklander-Zulawski's far-reaching move will hopefully assist the numerous people convicted on the basis of false convictions obtained through use of the Reid method who have not yet been exonerated - and will open the door to less confrontation and thereby less risky interrogation methods.  John E. Reid and Associates have marketed there interrogation materials aggressively over the years.  The following Marshall Project post contains Reid and Associates response to Wicklander-Zulawski's staggering move.

Harold Levy: Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog;


POST: "The Seismic change in police interrogations: A major player in law enforcement says it will no longer use a method linked to false confessions," by Eli Hager,  published by "The Marshall Project" on March 9, 2016.

GIST:  "You may have never heard of the Reid technique, but chances are you know how it works. For more than half a century, it has been the go-to police interrogation method for squeezing confessions out of suspects. Its tropes are familiar from any cop show: the claustrophobic room, the repeated accusations of guilt, the presentation of evidence — real or invented — and the slow build-up of pressure that makes admitting a crime seem like the easiest way out. That’s why it jolted the investigative world this week when one of the nation’s largest police consulting firms — one that has trained hundreds of thousands of cops from Chicago to New York and federal agents at almost every major agency — said it is tossing out the Reid technique because of the risk of false confessions........."This is big news in the interrogation world," said Steven A. Drizin, a law professor at Northwestern University and an expert on police interviews. Joseph P. Buckley, the president of John E. Reid &Associates, which licenses the Reid method, said Wednesday that Wicklander-Zulawski’s announcement was “very misleading and disingenuous.” He said the technique has consistently held up in court and that it is not “confrontational” except when evidence already suggests the suspect’s guilt. Wicklander-Zulawski said it would use the Reid technique only to educate police on the risk and reality of false confessions. The method, the company said, "has remained relatively unchanged since the 1970s, and it… does not reflect updates in our legal system." Buckley said that Wicklander-Zulawski has been teaching the 1984 version of the Reid technique, which does not include “any of the updates or new material that we developed” since then — making it unfair to suggest that Reid itself is outdated. The technique was first introduced in the 1940s and 50s by polygraph expert John Reid, who intended it to be a modern-era reform — replacing the beatings that police frequently used to elicit information. His tactics soon became dogma in police departments and were considered so successful in garnering confessions that, in its famous 1966 Miranda decision, the U.S. Supreme Court cited it as a reason why suspects must be warned of their right against self-incrimination. But the advent of DNA evidence and advocacy by the Innocence Project in the 1990s showed that about one-third of exonerations involve confessions, once believed to be an absolute sign of guilt. Academics have theories why someone would falsely confess to a crime, including having a mental disability, being interviewed without a lawyer or parent in the room, or suffering through hours or days in jail before questioning. But the most common factor is the Reid method and its imitators, experts say, since it can create confirmation bias in the minds of investigators while overwhelming a suspect to such an extent that the truth no longer seems like the best option. "At some point, the technique itself has to take responsibility," said Saul Kassin, a professor of psychology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and an expert on police interviews. "What Wicklander-Zulawski has realized is that once you start down the road of using trickery and deception, the misuses are inherent in that. There are no clear lines of, 'This is a good amount of trickery, and this isn't.'" after study shows are unreliable?" Drizin said. To Maurice Possley, a journalist who helps maintain a comprehensive registry of exonerations at the University of Michigan and has written for The Marshall Project, it's a big deal either way. "This is not defense attorneys or wrongly convicted defendants saying it,” he said. “A major player in the field of law enforcement has stated that this method leads to false confessions."

The entire post can be found at:

PUBLISHER'S NOTE: I am monitoring this case/issue. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog for reports on developments. The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic" section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be found at: Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at: Please send any comments or information on other cases and issues of interest to the readers of this blog to: Harold Levy; Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog;