False confessions are among the leading causes of wrongful conviction. In 2006 alone, two New York men –
– who had confessed to murders were exonerated by DNA evidence, proving that their confessions were false.
For every case in which biological evidence is available to prove innocence or guilt, there are many without evidence that can be tested.
In some cases, a false confession leads police to charge someone with a crime, but before the case goes to trial evidence is uncovered that proves the confession was false. In late January, prosecutors in New York City dropped charges against Lourdes Torres, a 31-year-old woman who had confessed to a murder after 18 hours in interrogation. She had been held in jail for over four years awaiting trial before charges were dropped when DNA test results pointed to two men in the murder.
In an interview from Riker's Island Penitentiary, Torres told NewsChannel 4 that she believed detectives when they promised her freedom in exchange for giving a written confession to the fatal stabbing of her lover, 49-year-old Romeo Acuna, in his Jackson Heights apartment in September 2002.
"They told me if I signed the paper, they were going to take me out of jail," said Torres. "I did not kill him. I'm innocent. I wasn't even in the apartment when that occurred."
Read the full story and watch video here
. (WNBC New York, 01/25/07)
Recording custodial interrogations helps eliminate false confessions and also helps police do their job. The reform is gaining support from a diverse array of criminal justice groups around the country.
Read more about it here
Steve Drizin, a staff attorney at the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern School of Law in Chicago, maintains a blog on False Confessions.
Read the “Bluhm Blog” here