Oregon Deception Bill is Signed into Law, Banning Police from Lying to Youth During Interrogations

Both Oregon and Illinois enacted laws this week prohibiting police from using deceptive interrogation tactics on minors.

06.16.21 By Innocence Staff

Oregon Deception Bill is Signed into Law, Banning Police from Lying to Youth During Interrogations

(Portland, OR – July 14, 2021) On Wednesday, Governor Kate Brown signed legislation into law prohibiting law enforcement officers from using deception while interrogating people under the age of 18. The law bans commonly used deceptive interrogation tactics, including false promises of leniency and false claims about the existence of incriminating evidence. Both of these tactics have long been identified as significantly increasing the risk of false confessions, which have played a role in about 30% of all wrongful convictions overturned by DNA. False confessions are also the most frequent contributing factor in wrongful conviction cases involving homicides. And recent studies suggest that children under 18 are between two and three times more likely to falsely confess than adults.

This law is rooted in the work and expertise of the Innocence Project, the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University School of Law, and the Oregon Innocence Project, which collectively have exposed hundreds of wrongful convictions based on false confessions. The bill was originally sponsored by State Senator Chris Gorsek (D-25), who is a former police officer, and was also sponsored and championed through the leadership of State Senator Michael Dembrow (D-23), Senator James Manning, Jr. (D-7), State Representative Khanh Pham (D-46), and State Representative Jeff Reardon (D-48). Additionally, this legislation garnered support from law enforcement organizations, including the Oregon Association of Chiefs of Police and the Oregon State Sheriffs’ Association.

“Senate Bill 418 A expands on youth justice legislation I’ve worked on with this team in two previous legislative sessions; it requires law enforcement to tell the truth during interrogations,” said Senator Gorsek. “As a criminal justice educator and former police officer, this is a professional standard I teach and we have reliable data showing that untruthfulness used in interviews can lead to false confessions.”