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.