False confessions / admissions

In approximately 16% of Louisiana and Mississippi’s exonerations, the defendant has either made allegedly incriminating statements, confessed to the crime or pled guilty, in spite of their innocence.

False confessions happen for many reasons, not just because a suspect is beaten by police. Often the fear of violence by police is enough to persuade an innocent person in an interrogation room that their best way out is to confess and then get it cleared up by their lawyer. Nationally, ¼ of the defendants who were later exonerated by DNA testing gave a false confession / admission. Extensive research shows that juveniles and people with mental retardation or mental illness are particularly vulnerable to falsely confessing when interrogated and yet virtually no protections exist for these groups in the interrogation room.

Travis Hayes, who was undereducated, under the influence of marijuana and only 17 years old at the time of his interrogation for the murder of grocery-store owner Tommy Vanhoose, was questioned through the night by at least three different police officers without an attorney or even a parent present. After eight hours of interrogation through which he and his co-defendant Ryan Matthews gave consistent accounts of their whereabouts that day, Mr. Hayes finally conceded to his interrogators' version of events.  He placed himself at the scene of the crime, though could not give the police any details about the crime whatsoever. DNA testing later linked another, unrelated, man to the killing and both Travis and his co-defendant, Ryan Matthews, were exonerated.


The following Louisiana and Mississippi exonerees were convicted based on their own false confession or alleged admission:


Angola Prision