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False Confessions: Causes, Consequences & Solutions. Richard Leo, Ph.D., J.D. Associate Professor University of San Francisco School of Law (415) 661-0162 Email: [email protected] 1 st Part of Talk: Overview. How do we know that false confessions are a problem?

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False confessions causes consequences solutions

False Confessions: Causes, Consequences & Solutions

Richard Leo, Ph.D., J.D.

Associate Professor

University of San Francisco

School of Law

(415) 661-0162

Email: [email protected]


1 st part of talk overview
1st Part of Talk: Overview

  • How do we know that false confessions are a problem?

  • Why do the innocent falsely confess?

  • What are the consequences of false confession?


Studies of documented false confessions
Studies of Documented False Confessions


Pathways to false confession
Pathways to False Confession

  • 1st: The Misclassification Error

  • 2nd: The Coercion Error

  • 3rd: The Contamination Error



2 nd part of talk a closer look
2nd Part of Talk: A Closer Look

  • The Psychology of Police Interrogation and False Confession

    • The Decision to Interrogate

    • The Two Step Process of Interrogation

    • The Psychology of Compliance & Persuasion

    • Risk Factors

  • Minimizing and Preventing False Confessions: Possible Reforms


Reforms electronic recording
Reforms: Electronic Recording

  • The Problem of “Misleading Specialized Knowledge”

  • Case Studies:

    • 1) Earl Washington

    • 2) Bruce Godschalk


Other possible reforms
Other Possible Reforms

  • Improve Police Interrogation Training and Practice

  • Hold Pre-Trial Reliability Hearings

  • Limit/Prohibit Certain Interrogation Tactics

  • Cautionary Jury Instructions


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