When Will the Law Catch Up with Psychology? Here’s some of what everyone working in the justice system should know about false confessions!
In 2014, in R v Hart,the Supreme Court of Canada created a new common law rule in acknowledgement of the fact that certain undercover operations – known as Mr. Big Stings – have the potential to elicit false confessions and, in turn, contribute to wrongful convictions. Years before that decision, however, Canadian lawyers and psychologists warned of the risks of the operations. In fact, in 2009 – after spending over a decade in prison – AIDWYC client Kyle Unger was exonerated after his confession to “Mr. Big” was shown to be false.
In a similar vein, psychologists have been denouncing the psychologically coercive Reid interrogation technique for decades. AIDWYC is very pleased to be working with the Niagara Regional Police Service as they train their interrogators in PEACE – a less manipulative interview technique – however many police forces across the country continue to use the Reid technique or elements of it.
While we don’t know when the law will catch up with what psychologists have known for years, we suggest all those working in the criminal justice system read the following articles so that we can work together to prevent wrongful convictions.
If you want to learn about the latest developments in detention, arrest, interviewing and interrogation, please click here.
NOTE: Special thanks to Professor Tim Moore Chair of the Psychology Department, Glendon, York University for providing the following articles.
Moore, T. E., Copeland, P., & Schuller, R. (2009). Deceit, betrayal and the search for truth: Legal and psychological perspectives on the ‘Mr Big’ strategy. Criminal Law Quarterly, 55(3), 349 – 405.
Moore, T. E., & Fitzsimmons, C. L. (2011). Justice Imperiled: False Confessions & the Reid technique. Criminal Law Quarterly, 57(4), 509-542.
Moore, T. E., & Keenan, K. (2013). [...]