What Do Jurors Know About False Confessions?


While extensive research on wrongful convictions and false confessions continues within the criminal justice system, potential jurors are mostly unaware of false confessions or admissions by the innocent, according to a new article in the Journal of Empirical Legal Studies.  “Juror Beliefs About Police Interrogations, False Confessions, and Expert Testimony,” was written by Mark Costanzo, Professor of Psychology & Co-Director, Center for Applied Psychological Research at Claremont McKenna College.

 Costanzo and his colleagues asked nearly 500 men and women resembling the demographic of a jury pool about their beliefs on false confessions and interrogation tactics, among other questions.

Jurors believed that they would be able to differentiate a true confession from a false confession by watching a videotape, but were less confident about making such a differentiation from an audio recording. A large majority of the sample reported that it would be helpful to hear expert testimony about interrogation techniques and reasons why a defendant might falsely confess to a crime.

Non-white jury candidates had much less confidence in law enforcement than white jury candidates and they also gave substantially larger estimates of false confession rates.

Read an excerpt of the article here


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