There are many important concepts in today’s criminal system. A false confession is one of the terms that are frequently used by modern criminologists. Media says that despite the intentions of the system to protect the population against wrong and prejudice judgments, hundreds of prisoners remain the victims of police-included false confessions (“The confessions,” 2010). This paper aims at discussing the essence of a false confession, its causes, and consequences, as well as the steps that are taken to reduce the number of such types of confession in the criminal system.
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Essence of False Confession
Police officers are usually free to obtain confessions in a variety of ways. For example, a conviction of a person may occur after long interrogation in a small room with one person sitting across the table and using any allowed and restricted methods to find out the required truth (“The confessions,” 2010). Such situations promote the creation of false confessions. It is usually defined as an admission of guilt for some crime for which a confessor is not even responsible (Honts, Kassin, & Craig, 2014). The use of these psychologically coercive police interrogations is the issue that undergoes numerous discussions and doubts (Honts et al., 2014). Still, the essence remains the same: a false confession happens in modern prisons and is characterized by certain causes and consequences.
Causes and Consequences
People may confess to something they did not do because of the causes of why police officers choose this method. It is hard to define one single cause of false confessions. As a rule, such confession happens as a result of several processes, including the power of influence and persuasion. Police should create specific conditions and consider personality traits to make sure the desired results can be achieved.
The main causes why police may come to a false confession are misclassification (when a police officer follows wrong judgments or personal attitudes to convince a person), coercion (when different methods are used to hear the necessary words), and contamination (when enough evidence should be offered to make a false confession a real one).
The most serious and dangerous outcomes of such confession are wrongful convictions and the inability to find an actual criminal. The system continues working without even a guess what a challenge may be observed with time. Sometimes, people who are wrongly convicted start thinking that they did something wrong and experience multiple psychological changes, which may ruin their personalities in a variety of ways. In other words, a false confession can turn an innocent citizen into a dangerous criminal.
Protection Against False Confession
The prevention of false confessions is the task for many criminal systems around the whole world. In some prisons, the system works to protect prisoners against false confessions in the form of long-lasting self-examinations. These evaluations include self-analysis, mutual denunciation, admission of guilt, and confession of what has been done (Lewy, 2017). However, it is also necessary to prevent such a confession before they happen. At this moment, the system makes use of videotapes for all interrogations that can be used if the confession is based on a person’s free-will. Time limits help to avoid unnecessary communication. Finally, the mirrors in interrogation rooms should be defined as effective protective means against false confessions because it is a chance for another person to observe the conversation and make conclusions.
In general, it is possible to say that a false confession is a problem of the 21st century. However, the modern criminal system takes multiple steps to avoid problems and achieve positive results. Some prisoners know what it means to be falsely convicted. They are ready to share their experience and improve the system that promotes happiness and order in society.
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The confessions. (2010). Frontlines. Web.
Honts, C. R., Kassin, S. M., & Craig, R. A. (2014). ‘I’d know a false confession if I saw one’: A constructive replication with juveniles. Psychology, Crime & Law, 20(7), 695-704.
Lewy, G. (2017). False consciousness: An essay on mystification. New York, NY: Routledge.