False confessions cause about 15% of wrongful convictions. Mentally ill, intellectually disabled, and juvenile suspects are at a significantly higher risk of falsely confessing than average. Over 60% of the first 66 confessions proven false by post-conviction DNA testing were given by juveniles or the mentally disabled. Eleven of IPNO’s freed clients either falsely confessed or admitted guilt. Seven of them were intellectually disabled or juveniles when interrogated.
The following practices are critical to early-detection of false confessions or admissions and to protecting those vulnerable to false confessions in the investigation process.
- Videotaped recording of the interrogation.
- Special protections for juveniles or the intellectually disabled in the interrogation room.
- Reducing the use of confrontational interrogation techniques for certain suspects.